Boxing stagnates in Pakistan

May 10, 2015

Boxing stagnates in Pakistan

After former AIBA and Pakistan Boxing Federation’s (PBF) chief late Prof Anwar Chowdhry quit the leadership of boxing governing body in the final years of his life because of his worsening health, there was no person who could truly replace the boxing supremo.

Chowdhry was also responsible for the situation because he served AIBA for forty years as president, vice-president and secretary, but did not care to prepare his successor who could lead Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF) effectively.

Around six years ago when Doda Bhutto was elected as PBF president it was expected that the young man would lead the federation effectively because of his strong family background and political affiliation with the Pakistan People’s Party. But this optimism was proved to be ill founded. Doda failed to live up to the expectations. He failed to keep his boxing family united. Leading a federation in the most decent way needs a lot of sacrifice on the part of the president. When a leader starts thinking about his own benefit it becomes difficult for him to do justice with his job.

For the initial four years, Mohammad Akram Khan, who had introduced Doda in the boxing field, worked with him as secretary. The two may still be boasting about their achievements of holding two international boxing tournaments in the name of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto in Karachi and Islamabad.

During the Islamabad event differences surfaced between Doda and Akram. The conflict turned ugly when both started leveling allegations of corruption and human smuggling against each other, particularly after Pakistani boxers were shown the exit door in the Asian qualifying round for 2012 London Olympics in Astana in March-April 2012.

The differences grew to such an extent that they severed ties with each other.

In the electoral meeting of December 2012 in Lahore, Doda, who had strong support of Pakistan Olympic Association (POA), declared that he and Iqbal Hussain had been elected as PBF president and secretary, respectively. But Akram and his associates claimed that no elections had been held.

Because of the legal battle between POA and Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) over the implementation of the national sports policy, PSB started supporting Akram Khan’s group.

It was only last year that Akram group’s influence subsided when the ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) led by minister Riaz Hussain Pirzada re-established its working relationship with Arif Hasan-led POA after the ministry’s positive dialogue with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

After Akram was shown the door, it was expected that Doda-Iqbal partnership would last long but for the last few months differences have developed between the two and now, according to sources, Doda is set to remove Iqbal Hussain and bring in his place his close associate Asghar Baloch, who is currently the secretary of Sindh Boxing Association (SBA).

Doda should realise that it will engender a disaster if he ever tries to grab all powers.

The boxing fraternity has already been divided which has damaged the sport a lot.

At one time when both Akram and Doda were claiming that their body was the genuine one, boxers and officials were in a lot of confusion as they did not know whom they should support.

In the wake of Doda-Iqbal differences, officials and boxers are again in a fix not knowing who they should back.

The general impression in the boxing fraternity is that politics has destroyed the sport. And it is a fact. Barring the country’s leading boxer Mohammad Waseem, who won silver medal in the last year’s Glasgow Commonwealth Games and bronze medal in the Incheon Asian Games, the authorities have failed to produce a quality boxer during the last few years.

Disappointed by this politics in the PBF its former executive vice-president Waqar Maroof has severed ties with boxing.

Waqar, a former Pakistan team manager and president of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Boxing Association, had been authorised by the general body of the PBF in the wake of Doda-Akram differences in June 2012 at Karachi that the PBF chief would not take any decision in future without taking input from Waqar. But later on, on certain occasions Waqar’s authority given to him by the general body was challenged. The most glaring example of the violation of rules was that the president dissolved the referees/judges commission without taking concurrent approval from Waqar.

The same thing and a few others forced Waqar to keep silent.

As the current PBF will work till the end of next year, it will be better if Doda and Iqbal shun their differences and start working with a fresh zeal for the betterment of Pakistan’s boxing.

However, their reconciliation must be for the betterment of Pakistan’s boxing and not for their personal gains.

Besides, they should also try to bring closer Akram Khan group and those others who are against them. It is through reconciliation only that the ruling PBF can use all the skilled manpower for the development of the sport.

The club culture has almost died. The available talent is not good enough to win international medals.

Around forty boxers from across the country are undergoing training here at the PSB Coaching Centre but one could see only a handful of them who can improve if they are groomed properly.

Pakistani boxers featured in the 2004 Athens Olympics; since then they have been struggling for a berth in the world’s most prestigious spectacle.

Leading a federation nowadays is not that easy; if you don’t produce results, you will be shown the door.

If those in authority are unable to run the PBF they should give the chance to those who are competent enough to take the game forward.

It would be wise to convene a general body meeting immediately and discuss all the matters before taking any decision with consensus which could save the game from further damage.


Boxing stagnates in Pakistan