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Comment: Lack of merit, ego tussles continue to hurt boxing in Pakistan

Comment: Lack of merit, ego tussles continue to hurt boxing in Pakistan

All is not well in the Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF) which is evident by the alleged wrongdoings and the differences that persist between President Doda Khan Bhutto and secretary Iqbal Hussain.

The latter is calling the shots in connivance with the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) and Pakistan Sports Board (PSB), it emerged on Friday.

Sending three women pugilists not belonging to the game at the 2016 South Asian Games in India is one of the biggest example in this regard.

The selection of oarswoman Khoushleem Bano, kabaddi player Rukhsana Perveen and wushu player Soofia Javed to the sojourn have raised many questions pertaining to giving the nod by the POA as well as the PSB besides depriving the deserving girls.

Merit was not followed in the selection as no trials were announced and the team was named by the PBF secretary who also accompanied the team as manager.

The game has reached the rock bottom in the last two decades or so which is evident from the fact that Pakistani pugilists could win merely four silver medals in the men’s event of the 2016 SA Games.

There was a time when Pakistan used to dominate the SA Games, having swept all the 10 golds that were at stake in the fourth edition of the Games held at Islamabad in 1989.

The recipients of gold medals were Majid Qambrani (light flyweight), M. Latif (flyweight), Zaigham Masih (featherweight), Arshad Hussain (lightweight), Azeem Jan (light welterweight), Abrar Hussain (light middleweight), Hussain Shah (middleweight), Asghar Ali (light heavyweight), Kausar Abbas (heavyweight) and Dildar Ahmed (super heavyweight).

The 10 golds won by the boxers helped Pakistan finish with a rich haul of 42-30-22 medals, their best-ever performance in the spectacle, finishing a close second behind leaders India who earned 61-43-20 medals.

It sounds strange that the minutes of the electoral meeting that took place at Lahore in Dec 2012 were formally approved in a council meeting held here last year during the 35th National Boxing Championship.

It is pertinent to mention that no such meeting took place during three years.

Doda Bhutto has been at the helm of the PBF since 2008 and completes two terms in office later this year. According to sources, he is likely to stretch his run in the quadrennial elections.

The affiliated units of the PBF includes four provinces (three votes each), Islamabad (two vote), Referees and Judges Commission (one vote), Army, Navy, PAF, Railways, Wapda, KESC and KPT (two votes apiece).

Gilgit-Baltistan, Fata and HEC have only playing rights.

With lack of national level activities, the standard of the game has gone down and none of the boxers have enough potential to bring laurels to the nation.

Quetta-born pugilist Mohammad Waseem, who won a silver medal in flyweight (52kg) at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and a bronze at the Incheon Asian Games, has turned pro sometimes back.

Of late, the PSB seems to have changed its stance towards the PBF secretary, regretting financial assistance to send the pugilists for Olympic qualifiers in China.

Officials said initially 24 pugilists were invited to the national camp that was set up at the PSB Coaching Centre, Karachi, and later the number of trainees was reduced to half in a bid to get a go ahead for the trip but in vain.

The short training camp cannot guarantee that Pakistan can earn a berth in this year’s Rio Olympics.

Pakistan should focus on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics right now by setting aside groupings to avoid embarrassment in future.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2016

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