Melanie Shah won her debut fight against Mathilda Wilson

When Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship hosted their first UK based show back in August at Wembley Arena, there was a keen spectator in attendance. Melanie Shah, a mother of three from Birmingham, along with her husband Habib Shah were watching ringside.

Come November 26th in Newcastle Melanie was on the other side of the ropes into the squared circle facing opponent Mathilda Wilson and scored a sensational debut win.

She’s becomes the only second UK female, to fight bare knuckle professionally in the UK, and the first to fight in the worldwide BKFC organisation.

Melanie who became Muslim in 2003 said: “I have always boxed underground and club fights since the age of around 19 – 20.

“Since a young age I have always wanted to do bare knuckle on a big scale and now I can show what I’m capable of.

“Also, being Muslim I have inspired so many other Muslim women to get into combat sports both watching and participating at a local centre.

Melanie Shah with her children

“There’s a perception that Muslim women and women in general should not do combat sports however I want to change that.

“Now since I’m fighting for BKFC UK more, Muslim women are looking out for the sport as they had never heard of it and never thought women could do the sport!

“A lot of women assumed it was a male only sport. I have shocked a lot of people on fight night for sure! Above all I want to shout my husband Habib Shah who has always supported me and my decisions to do combat sports such as BKFC.”

Melanie’s involvement in combat sport is reflected in the wider world of combat sports as many Muslim women are embracing and enjoying combat sports throughout the world.

There is a growing social media movement highlighting and celebrating Muslim women becoming involved in combat sports which is helping to inform, educate and shed some of the misconceptions that exist.

The sport of bare knuckle often attracts negative perceptions in the UK, this is in stark contrast to the explosive growth and exposure that the sport enjoys over in the US. Following Bare Knuckle Fighting Championships first UK show in August it has since been announced that Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship UK has been established with shows planned on a regular basis throughout the UK as the sports growth and popularity continues.