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A roadmap for boxing

Pakistan last featured in the 2004 Athens Olympics in boxing, which shows how the standard has gone down since Anwar Chowdhry left the sport

A roadmap for boxing
Khalid... to face tough challenges.
The newly-elected president of Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF) Khalid Mehmood has a tough task of reviving boxing which has been destroyed by the outgoing president Doda Bhutto and his company over the last eight years. Doda, who was brought in by the then PBF secretary Akram Khan, proved to be a disaster for boxing, a game in which Pakistan once had a good reputation, particularly at the Asian level, when late Professor Anwar Chowdhry was at the helm of affairs.

Ironically, Doda has been elected as chairman of the federation for the next four years. But Doda’s role as per constitution is not that big which could influence the functioning of the PBF.

It would no doubt be a tough task for Khalid to serve both as PBF president and secretary of Pakistan Olympic Association (POA). Not only will his foreign tours increase but his engagement in Pakistan sports will also go up. But I hope Khalid, a former WAPDA official, will not face any problem because he is now a retired man and can manage his double duty.

Khalid has vast experience in Pakistan’s sports. He has headed WAPDA’s sports wing, and has been a secretary of the Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP). When he served AFP as its secretary, there was not much pressure on him as in athletics Pakistan’s standard was not good and so the expectations were also low. But in boxing he will be under pressure as in this discipline Pakistan has a golden history. He will have to do his best.

I have seen Khalid working as AFP secretary with former Army generals and am hopeful that he will work in a different style while heading PBF.

Being the secretary of POA, Khalid may use both international and local forums effectively to help boxing. But he should be aware of the fact that Pakistan will need great efforts to revive its boxing. A revolutionary plan will be needed to bring back the lost glory of the sport.

Boxing is one of the disciplines, the other two being hockey and wrestling, in which Pakistan has won Olympic medals.

Hussain Shah won bronze medal for Pakistan in boxing in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. And at the Asian level Pakistan had been effective under Anwar Chowdhry who severed ties with boxing when he decided in 2008 that he would not contest the PBF elections.

Pakistan last featured in the 2004 Athens Olympics in boxing, which shows how the standard has gone down since Chowdhry left the sport.

Apart from the now professional boxer Mohammad Waseem Pakistan did not produce any boxer in the last decade who could win a medal in major international events.

And the credit of Waseem’s performances cannot be given to the PBF. Waseem won bronze in the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games, silver in the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, bronze in the Incheon Asian Games the same year and several other international medals without much support from the PBF whose officials worked more for their vested interests than for boxing.

Pakistan did not have pugilists in some weights while preparing for Rio Olympics qualifiers. The new PBF president will need to resurrect the sport at the grassroots level so that better boxers could be found and prepared for international challenges.

The PBF will have to prepare a solid plan for preparing boxers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Pakistan boxers are to feature in the Olympic qualifiers, both at the continental and world level. Keeping in view the standard of other nations Pakistan must train its pugilists in the most effective way for the next Olympics.

Cuba will be the most ideal destination for training of Pakistani boxers for the Olympics. Cuba has been the world’s leading nation in boxing with 32 gold medals in Olympics.

It would be great if through the assistance of Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) the PBF hired the services of a Cuban coach. And it would be a great breakthrough if Khalid’s PBF managed to help its boxers qualify for the 2020 Games.

The PBF will need cordial relations with the PSB which did not help the outgoing PBF set-up because of some serious differences.

Pakistan was not able to send its boxers to China for the Asian qualifying round for the 2016 Rio Olympics because of financial issues as the PSB did not support the PBF.

Without state funding, nobody in Pakistan can run a federation. In order to get talent, the PBF will need to organise more events. National leagues in various age-groups would be of immense help.

The PBF will need to help revive the club culture. Karachi and Balochistan are the most important areas from where the PBF can get international level talent.

There is also a need of a national academy where top crop in various age-groups could be trained.

The PBF will also need to improve its international relations. It will need to put its officials in the Asian Boxing Confederation (ASBC) and world boxing governing body (AIBA) so that effective effort could be made for the uplift of Pakistan’s boxing.

Khalid should reconcile with the rival group which has several key technical people who know the sport and can contribute to the game’s development. Khalid should induct more professionals (Olympians) in the PBF set-up in different capacities so that desired results could be achieved.

British boxer Amir Khan’s services may also be taken. Amir had been offered the PBF presidency by Doda Bhutto but later no development was made in that direction.

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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