New film profiles boxer Pardeep Singh Nagra and his fight for religious freedom

(RNS) — Two decades ago, Pardeep Singh Nagra was headed for the top.

An up-and-coming Canadian boxer, Nagra had captured the Ontario light flyweight amateur championship and was set to compete for the national title. Before his match, however, the Canadian Amateur Boxing Association (CABA) announced that its rules prohibited him from competing because of his beard.

That left Nagra, a devout Sikh, with a dilemma. Because of his faith, he did not want to shave his beard — for him, his Sikh identity mattered more than his boxing career. But this didn’t mean that Nagra would stop fighting. Instead, Nagra decided to take on CABA to ensure that no other religious minorities would ever have to choose between their love for their faith and their love for their sport.

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