LAHORE: Pakistan’s chances to qualify for the Rio Olympics boxing event appear slim as participation of the national team in the Asian championship is facing difficulties owing to lack of funds.
“After our hockey team’s failure to make the Olympics, boxing is the only hope for Pakistan in Rio Games but the participation in the Asian Boxing Championship, which is the first qualifying round to be staged in Bangkok in August, is not certain as we do not have the funds to send our team [to Bangkok],” Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF) secretary Iqbal Hussain said here on Wednesday.
“Pakistan boxers have the necessary experience and talent to qualify for the Rio Olympics given the fact that they have performed to a higher level in the international events including the Asian championships in the past.
“It will be very unfortunate if the team does not take part in the premier Asian activity in which few of our boxers stand a fair chance of qualification,” he lamented.
Iqbal said the PBF wants facilitation from the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) in terms of providing foreign coach to the boxers and arranging their practice tour to any prominent central Asian country for high-profile training for the Asian championship.
“Hockey was our main hope for holding the national flag in Rio but after the team failed to qualify, boxing is the last hope to take pride in carrying Pakistan flag at the extravaganza,” he said.
PBF officials aim to send an eight-member squad to the Asian championship and they would re-start preparations after Eid-ul-Fitr as the national camp attended by 40 boxers was closed due to extreme heat in Karachi.
Iqbal said the PBF did not receive any funds from the PSB during the past two and a half years, adding he ensured the team’s participation in major international events abroad from his own resources.
“We do not want any grant from the PSB but we request the government to look into the matter and ensure that Pakistan team gets training under the watchful eyes of a Cuban coach, besides attending a training programme abroad to brighten its chances for the Asian championship,” he stated.
If Pakistan boxers perform well then they will appear in the World Boxing Championship in October in Qatar, which is the second qualifying round for the Olympics.
“We have been serving boxing as a national duty and we will contribute our best efforts for bringing glory to the country,” vowed Iqbal.
“The team for the Asian championship will be named in the last week of this month.”
Published in Dawn, July 9th, 2015