Sport on TV: Ambreen's dreams disturbed after being sent to bed early

Last week it was cage-fighting women, this week it's a 15-year-old girl boxer fighting her way out of a cage. But her battle is more metaphysical than physical. Ambreen Sadiq is the only female Muslim boxer in the country and she dreams of Olympic glory now that women have been permitted to prowl the ring for the first time. But first she must overcome the chorus of religious disapproval within her own community. On the evidence of Ambreen: The Girl Boxer (Channel 4, Friday), that looks to be a far tougher opponent than the ones she faces inside the ropes.

Her father Shokit says that as a baby "Beeno" had a natural boxer's defence, fists up in front of her face when folk would try to pet her. It's as if she knew what a hard slog lay ahead of her. And she still shows plenty of "attitude". When she is invited to attend an England training camp, she drops out after an argument with women's development manager Rebecca Gibson over when she's told to go to bed (at half past nine). A typically petulant teenager, it seems, and you wouldn't want to ask her to tidy her room. But it's not an attitude that wins gold medals, still less keeps them polished afterwards.

The fact that after four days she hasn't thrown a punch doesn't help. Her training, and enthusiasm, drop off and coach Nazil Jalil has to fight to get her back on track. We see Ambreen defend her UK title, but her father cannot make it. The implication seems to be that although he encouraged her to box, outside pressure is being brought to bear. Still, mum Carla, who endured the backchat of other mothers, is in the crowd, even throwing a few shadow jabs of her own.

And there is an enthusiastic turnout from Keighley's Muslims. "I'm so happy that finally we are getting some support from the Asian community," Carla says. But earlier she had announced, "I believe that everything has been decided by God", which surely spoils one of the basic tenets of all sport, that anyone can win. It's damn useful to have God on your side but He makes a most formidable foe – as, indeed, does religion.

* From Ambreen to Jarrad Breen, and another young contender who, in a different way, is fighting prejudice. The sport would claim otherwise but the perception of bowls is that it is an old man's game. Yet the 17-year-old from Tonyrefail in Wales, the youngest player to take part in the World Indoor Singles Championship at Potters Bar, reached the last 16, beating the world No 2 Mark Royal before bowing out against Nick Brett (Bowls Extra, BBC2, Wednesday). He didn't fade away, but instead battered the woods about as if he was on a giant pool table. With his spiky hair and spiky style of play, he could augur in a new era and overcome the bias of opinion. Everyone's calling their babies Jack these days, so why not?

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Guru Careers: Senior Account Manager / SAM

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: A Senior Account Manager / SAM is needed to join the ...

Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Manager (EMEA) - City, London

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Manager...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?