Sikh boxer fights to compete in Canadian championship

Pardeep Nagra loves to box. He's the Ontario amateur champion in his weight division. But he also loves his religion -- he's a practising Sikh.

But that may keep him from boxing in this week's Canadian Amateur Boxing Championships in Campbell River, B.C.

Nagra wears a beard, which he says is a powerful symbol of his faith. But a beard, or any facial hair, is against the rules of the Canadian Amateur Boxing Association.

The association says beards are banned for medical reasons. It says they could temporarily blind opponents. That means Nagra won't be allowed to compete as long as he's wearing one.

Nagra is fighting the decision. He says boxing in the Canadian championships is one of his dreams and he shouldn't have to choose between boxing and his religion.

"It's clear I'm not giving up my faith. I hope to make boxing more accommodating."

This isn't a new battle for Nagra. He filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission to win the right to box, with his beard, in that province.

Eventually he was allowed to compete wearing a net over his beard and under his protective headgear. He hopes a similar deal can be worked out in time for this week's national competition.