The brutal, extreme culture of World Championship boxing, seen through the eyes of a woman. A Muslim Lebanese woman. Amateur boxer Bianca ‘Bam Bam’ Elmir, two time Australian Flyweight champion and Oceania champion, ‘Bam Bam’ aims to win gold at the World Championships.
But first Bianca must qualify at national level in a subjectively scored sport. Her outspoken nature, and propensity for public attention are a source of malcontent resulting in animosity from Boxing Australia. At her 2014 qualifying attempt she is unfairly judged, Boxing Australia seemingly determined not to allow her a pass to the World Championships. Her next opportunity is two years away.
Lebanon 1985, Bianca was kidnapped from her father, by her mother, Diana. They escape to Canberra, Australia. A difficult adolescence results in a tumultuous mother-daughter relationship, and a rebellious Bianca taking up boxing, hell-bent on a quest to prove herself. She meets her northern England larrikin coach, Garry. Not only coach and mentor, he is pseudo family.
Facing opposition on all fronts, from her conservative Islamic family, from the male dominated sport in which she fights and as a migrant in white Australia, ‘Bam Bam’ brazenly tackles opposition. She defies anyone who makes her conform, declaring, “boxing gives me an excuse not to be normal.”
Despite ongoing dissonance within her family, spirituality resonates for Bianca. Finding her own expression of Islam becomes a grounding force amidst the setbacks and barriers. Bianca, explores the shadows of who she is, her fears and loneliness. She reaches deep to focus upon the 2016 World Championships and she qualifies. She is set to represent Australia in Kazakhstan.
This is not Bianca’s first World Championships. In 2012, she qualified and was considered one of Australia’s best medal hopes. However, Bianca tested positive to a banned substance. She is dropped from the Australian team and stripped of her 3rd national title, resulting in a 12 month ban.
On returning to competition, ‘Bam Bam’ is targeted by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority. The testing forces her to take on excess liquid which, in a weight governed sport where boxers undergo severe dehydration to ‘make weight’, risks her not weighing in at her nominated division, and thus not competing. The process is gruelling on body and mind.
Surviving the setbacks, the rumours, the drug ban and the opposition, it is 2016 and Bianca is representing Australia at the World Championships. She is living her dream. But the dream is illusive. Careening face-to-face with her own shadow, ‘Bam Bam’ accepts her own self-worth – “I am me & I am enough”.
An ATOM Study Guide is available for download.
‘Bam Bam’ can be linked to the following subject areas in the Australian Curriculum as well as connecting with the General Capability of ‘Intercultural Understanding’:
– English: Years 9 – 10
– Health and Physical Education: Year 10
– Media Arts: Years 9 -10
The following Content Descriptions connect the text ‘Bam Bam’ with the Year 9 – 10 Health and Physical Education Curriculum:
Personal Social and Community Health
- Evaluate factors that shape identities and critically analyse how individuals impact the identities of others
- Investigate how empathy and ethical decision making contribute to respectful relationships
- Critique behaviours and contextual factors that influence health and wellbeing of diverse communities
- Critically analyse and apply health information from a range of sources to health decisions and situations
Movement and Physical Activity
- Examine the role physical activity, outdoor recreation and sport play in the lives of Australians and investigate how this has changed over time
- Reflect on how fair play and ethical behaviour can influence the outcomes of movement activities
‘Bam Bam’ can be used as an English text ‘Bam Bam’ and directly connected to the following Year 9 and 10 English Content Descriptions:
- Students engage with a variety of texts for enjoyment. They interpret, create, evaluate, discuss and perform a wide range of literary texts in which the primary purpose is aesthetic, as well as texts designed to inform and persuade. These include various types of media texts, including newspapers, film and digital texts, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, dramatic performances and multimodal texts, with themes and issues involving levels of abstraction, higher order reasoning and intertextual references.
- These texts explore themes of human experience and cultural significance, interpersonal relationships, and ethical and global dilemmas within real-world and fictional settings and represent a variety of perspectives
- Interpret and compare how representations of people and culture in literary texts are drawn from different historical, social and cultural contexts (ACELT1633 )
- Present an argument about a literary text based on initial impressions and subsequent analysis of the whole text
This documentary could also be used as part of students learning in Year 9 -10 Media Arts. ‘Bam Bam’ connects with the following Content Descriptions:
- draw on media arts from a range of cultures, times and locations as they experience media arts
- explore meaning and interpretation, forms and elements, and social, cultural and historical influences of media arts as they make and respond to media artworks
- consider the local, global, social and cultural contexts that shape purpose and processes in production of media artworks
- evaluate the social and ethical implications of media arts
*Content Warning* Teachers should be aware that this film contains strong language.