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November 29, 2017

Boxing support


November 29, 2017

When Muhammad Waseem won the World Boxing Council (WBC) Silver Flyweight title he was feted as a sporting hero in a cricket-mad country that seldom celebrates the achievements of other athletes. Waseem, Pakistan’s sole flag-bearer in the world of professional boxing, was promised hefty rewards both in cash and kind after he toppled favourite Jether Oliva from the Philippines to win the coveted WBC crown in July. But very few of those pledges materialised as even the federal and Balochistan governments failed to fully fulfil their promises made to the Quetta-born pugilist. Waseem is understandably upset. There had been rumours that he was mulling over the idea of switching his allegiance in order to save his career. Already 30, which is a ripe old age in the cutthroat world of professional boxing, Waseem knows that he has precious little time. And the fact that Pakistan isn’t chipping in with sufficient funds to back his career, he is now publicly talking about applying for foreign citizenship. In a video message to ‘his fans’ Waseem recently said that frustrated by the apathy of Pakistani authorities he is seriously considering accepting offers from either the United States or South Korea to start representing them in professional boxing.

The only issue is that Waseem has received funds from the government and other sources since he made the switch to professional boxing. According to media reports, in March this year the federal government released Rs24.675 million as part of Waseem’s training expenses. Waseem should know that professional athletes normally do not get any government support anywhere in the world. Their remuneration comes in form of the prize money and endorsements. That is why Waseem’s threat about switching his citizenship is being seen as some as a blackmailing tactic. That said, our sports authorities are also at fault. At a time when they are willing to spend hundreds of millions of rupees on athletes who bring no laurels for the country, their indifference towards Waseem is discouraging. They should rethink their approach and find a way to support the boxer and other such athletes who are serving the country and their respective sport. Waseem, meanwhile, should try and focus on what he does best – fight like a champion in the boxing ring.

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