On The Ropes is the brilliant new Aussie drama every woman should watch immediately.


It’s rare that a TV show is able to deliver a knock-out punch both in front of the camera and behind-the-scenes, but that’s exactly what new SBS series On the Ropes has been able to achieve.

Not only do the storylines in the series feature a diverse cast of well-written female characters, but the production team behind the series is also predominantly female-driven, two things that can often be a rarity in the world of Australian television.

On The Ropes explores the complexities and realities of life for a migrant family living in the western suburbs of Sydney, while also expertly delving into the deep-seated culture of misogyny that can be found in the sporting world.

We see this world through the eyes of Amirah (played by Nicole Chamoun, best known for her roles in Safe Harbour, Romper Stomper), a young woman who is desperate to walk her own path.

While working in her family’s gym alongside her two brothers Amirah negotiates a professional debut match for her fighter Jess O’Connor (Keisha Castle-Hughes), despite the fact that her conservative family want her to concentrate on her university studies and stay away from the male focused world of boxing.

When her plan to become a professional trainer is discovered by her family, her father is furious that she has gone behind his back and threatens to cut her off.

For actress Nicole Chamoun, the plight of her character Amirah was one that she deeply related to while also representing the kind of person she aspires to be.


“Amirah is a young woman coming into her own, her dad is an ex-pro fighter and she has grown up in the world of boxing,” Nicole told Mamamia. “She’s grown up in the gym, this world is all she really knows. It’s her passion, so she wants to follow in her dad’s footsteps.

“But she’s also been taught to believe that a woman’s place is not in the boxing world, so she needs to find her hustle to succeed.

“Before I took this role I was not aware that there was a female boxing world or even a female boxing industry. It’s a world where the women who are  involved in it are excited about it, but they are also equally frustrated, because they don’t get the same kind of opportunities that their male counterparts do. So I think the audience for our show will be intrigued and engaged by that.”

Keisha Castle-Hughes, Nicole Chamoun, Bozana Diab, Zoe Jensen and Michelle in On The Ropes. Source: SBS.

Chamoun's own parents fled Lebanon for Australia during the breakout of the country’s civil war in the late 1970s and since making her screen debut in SBS’s 2007 drama series Kick, she has been on a path similar to Amirah's - forced to work against the odds to carve out her own road to success.

"We’ve all been told once in our lives that we can’t do something, and we’ve all wanted to fight against that," she said, referring to the one element of On The Ropes she most identifies with. "The thing I always say about Amirah is that she has the courage to do things that I have struggled to do in my own life. So it was nice to have the opportunity to find my voice through her.

"I can relate to being told I am not good enough, but you have to trust your own gut and don’t always go with what society thinks is right for you.

"I knew from the first table read that we did that this show was something special. Then as a cast we trained together before we started shooting and we all became very close. That’s how all pre-production should run, it was like the cast going through a boot-camp together. It just forces you all to drop all your BS and just connect, because you all need each other."


Nicole said that while TV shows such as On The Ropes being produced and aired in Australia is an important step toward diversity  on our screens, the fight for true representation is far from over.

"I’m lucky that my work is being recognised now and I’m being offered more roles than I would have been prior to Safe Harbour and Romper Stomper," said the Arab-Australian actress.

"Now I am being given the chance to play roles that are not just based on my ethnic heritage, which is nice.

"The more our screens represent our streets, the closer we come to true diversity on TV. It is getting better, but it’s slow. It’s an uphill battle, but it’s also about the right people having the courage to make the right decisions. That's what we need right now."

On the Ropes will premiere on Wednesday 28 November at 8.30pm on SBS and new episodes drop weekly. The series will also be available to watch for free via SBS On Demand.

For more TV and movie recommendations from Mamamia's Entertainment Editor Laura Brodnik, sign up for her newsletter or follow her on Facebook.