The International Boxing Association has lifted a ban on competitors with beards ©IBA

A ban on beards has been officially lifted by the International Boxing Association (IBA), it has been announced.

Previously, fighters were required to be clean shaven, partly so that cuts to the face could be seen.

Several religious groups had been campaigning for a change in the rules.

The IBA confirmed today that "the long-awaited decision was taken several months ago" but that they had now officially changed the rules to reflect it.

According to rule of IBA Technical & Competitions Rules, “a boxer can have a beard and moustache, but either must not cover the neck and must not be longer than 10cms,” the governing body said.

Professional boxing has no rule on facial hair as long as long as they are cut to a certain length.

A ban on amateur boxers in England was lifted in June 2018 following a long campaign by Sikh and Muslim groups.

Since then, they had been lobbying the IBA for a rule change at international level.

Beards have been permitted in professional boxing for many years ©Getty Images
Beards have been permitted in professional boxing for many years ©Getty Images

The Sikh faith considers hair sacred as part of God's creation.

Maintaining uncut hair all over their bodies is one of the five articles of faith for Sikhs, both men and women.

The Quran does not prescribe beards for Muslims, but the Prophet Muhammad wore one and many followers feel it is therefore important to be bearded.

Jordan’s Asian Games silver medallist Odai Al-Hindawi was among those to hail the rule change.

"I am a Muslim and Islam encourages long beards," he said.

"It was a great decision, which also allows me to keep my traditions.

"Because there are no injuries in the presence of the beard and my appearance remains beautiful."

Italy’s World Championship silver medallist, Aziz Abbes Mouhiidine, was another boxer to welcome the announcement.

"It makes amateur athletes look professional in this context too," he said.

Other boxers, meanwhile, claimed that it was not only for religious reasons that they were pleased with the change.

"It’s much more comfortable to compete, and so you don’t have to shave all the time," Spain’s European Games champion Gabriel Escobar said.

"Before we had to shave so much during a tournament, so it started to hurt.

"That’s why I say that it’s much better to compete with a beard."

It is not clear, however, whether the rule change will take effect for next year’s Olympic Games in Paris.

IBA is currently banned from running the tournament by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) due to concerns over its governance under Russian Umar Kremlev.

The IOC have appointed a special task force to organise and run the event at Paris 2024 and they will be responsible for deciding which rules will be applied.