Burqa Boxers

Burqa Boxers is a feature length documentary about Muslim women boxers in Kolkata, India, directed by Alka Raghuram and co-produced by Deann Borshay Liem and Premlatha Durham.  As opposed to professional boxing, which is a remunerative business, boxing is practiced only as a sport in India. The highest achievement an athlete can hope for is to win a gold in the Olympics. While there is no direct causal relationship between the pursuit of the sport and money, the government reserves jobs in the public sector (banks, railways, police, postal services etc.) for athletes who spend their lives training, honing their skills, and representing their state and country.

About fifteen years ago, women's boxing started in West Bengal, In India. Mr. Asit Banerjee, the president of the West Bengal Boxing Federation and general secretary of the Indian Boxing federation, along with a couple of other coaches, namely Mehrajuddin Ahmad and Sujoy Ghosh and Jamil Alam,  trained the girls. These were girls who had never won anything, had never been allowed to, and suddenly the sky was their limit. Not only was there a hope of earning an income, there was also a way of becoming physically strong, tough enough to deal with the prevalent misogyny in their society. But as the girls grew up, grown-up questions of self-sufficiency started to raise their head. They were from extremely poor families, and keeping their passion alive meant unbearable expenditure. To be strong athletes, the women not only needed societal support, but also basics like good diet, equipment, and a safe place to train. For the girls whose families could not afford these expenses without state support, there were only two choices, find a job or get married. 

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