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How to revive boxing

The next two and a half years till 2020 Olympics are very crucial for Pakistan’s boxing. The PBF will have to build a solid lot so that some could qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Pakistani boxers last featured in Olympics in 2004 Athens Games

How to revive boxing

Pakistan’s boxing is like a dead body and needs a soul to be revived in a country that once had a strong say on the international circuit.

The responsibility of running the most important federation has come in the hands of Khalid Mehmood, who is also the secretary of Pakistan Olympic Association (POA). He replaced Doda Khan Bhutto in January this year. It was expected that he would come up with a vigorous plan by using his office as secretary of the NOC, which is a strong sports’ governing body of the country. But despite serving in the capacity for nine long months, he has not taken any solid step towards improving boxing.

He says that from next year onwards everyone will see how he works. And we are waiting anxiously for that time when efforts would be made to lift the standard of boxing in which the country has also to its credit an Olympic medal.

I think he should not consider PBF an ordinary federation and should put in his hundred percent if he is to revive the game. If he really wants to deliver, he will have to exclusively work for the PBF. I don’t think he spares much time for boxing as he has often been seen engaged in the affairs of the NOC which demand hectic foreign traveling.

If he really wants to serve boxing, he will have to talk about only this sport. He should take it as a challenge.

Khalid often says that working as NOC secretary he can serve boxing in the most befitting manner. But I don’t believe in it.

It is the most competitive period and unless you put your soul in a special area, success will elude you.

The game has already been destroyed by Doda Bhutto who wasted eight long years while serving as head of the PBF. And Pakistan’s boxing cannot afford any more laxity on the part of the federation. If doing something for the betterment of boxing is in the plans of Khalid, he should act promptly and diligently.

Boxing is a sport which demands much experience on the part of boxers. It would not be wrong to say that bag work in the basement cannot be a substitute to experience in boxing. If you provide more bouts, boxers will gain more experience and so will get ready for tough challenges.

Unless boxers face diverse styles and play against the best of the world, they will not improve. The important thing is that their fundamentals should be made strong. They would then build on them through exposure. I think Khalid understands my point. He will have to manage huge funding and then give more exposure to his budding lot. If we put a cursory look on our current stuff, we will find that in some weights we don’t have athletes and this shows how we are suffering in boxing. And for this, the PBF will have to plan. It will be better if talent is identified at a young age. The secret behind Cuba’s global success in boxing is that talent is unearthed there at the age of eight. Then it is put in academies. They have one academy in each 14 provinces. The kids are trained there after their school hours. These are state-funded academies. And although Cuba has a rich boxing legacy, Pakistan can copy its style and at least open one academy each in the four provinces and Islamabad. If efforts are made by the PBF then it could open these academies through government support.

If the government is so eager to throw money on hockey these days, it should also look at boxing as the country had glorious past in both.

And I am sure if 25 percent of the money which the government spends on hockey is spent on boxing, we can bring Olympic and world championship medals.

It is the responsibility of the PBF to convince the government.

The next two and a half years till 2020 Olympics are very crucial for Pakistan’s boxing. The PBF will have to build a solid lot so that some could qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Pakistani boxers last featured in Olympics in 2004 Athens Games. And since then the nation has been struggling in international circuit.

If Pakistan is to return to Olympic fold, there must be extensive training programmes, both at home and abroad. Without proper schooling of boxers, it would be difficult to do something big at major stages.

This year Pakistan’s performance in the Asian Championship and Islamic Games was extremely poor. Only light heavyweight boxer Awais Ali Khan qualified for the World Championship as he beat an Indian boxer but the Army’s pugilist had to exit at the first hurdle in the global event in Hamburg, Germany, this summer.

I would also advise our boxers to work harder. They should always have their gloves on. Pakistan’s pro boxer and world silver flyweight champion Mohammad Waseem told me the other day that he works so hard that it is not an issue for him to reduce even 13 kilogramme weight.

He is the best example and should be a motivation for other boxers. It’s time to act and act correctly to revive our boxing.

Alam Zeb Safi

Alam Zeb copy
The writer is a sports reporter at The News International. He may be reached at [email protected]

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