KARACHI Pakistan's sole Olympic boxing medallist Hussain Shah on Saturday lashed out at the government and the national boxing federation for giving him a cold shoulder and not keeping their promises.
Hussain Shah, pictured here at the Benazir Bhutto boxing tournament held in Karachi, Pakistan. -Photo by White Star
The former middleweight, who became the first Pakistani to grab a boxing Olympic medal by winning bronze at 1988 Seoul Games, said he had been waiting for positive steps from prime minister on possession of a 120-square yard plot.
Hussain, who is basically a resident of shanty Lyari and migrated to Japan in 1996, said he was asked by the Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF) to visit Pakistan in February. He claimed he met Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Feb 23 in Islamabad along with Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF) president Doda Khan and secretary Akram Khan.
“We went to Islamabad where I met the prime minister. I told him all about my grievances. I told him that I haven't received the possession of the plot I was awarded on winning the Olympic bronze medal. He immediately ordered to bring the relevant documents and promised me that I will get my plot. But I am still waiting for any response,” Hussain told Dawn.com while calling from Tokyo.
The boxer, who turned professional in 1992 said he had been awarded the plot in Gulistan-e-Jauhar by the Benazir Bhutto government for winning the medal, but later he was shocked when he came to know that the plot had already been occupied.
“The KDA (Karachi Development Authority) allotted the plot to me vide allotment order dated January 24, 1989. When I approached the concerned KDA official on the site, I was told that somebody has illegally occupied the plot,” Hussain wrote in a letter to the prime minister on Feb 22, 2010.
Hussain, who has already paid Rs15,000 for the allotment of the plot, also wrote that government's apathy was deplorable as he was the only athlete in the 145-strong Pakistani Olympic contingent who won the bronze medal.
The boxer, who is now a professional coach at Kadoebi Boxing Gym in Japan, however, said PBF made a big blunder as they mentioned in the letter to prime minister that the plot had been awarded to him by General Ziaul Haq.
“I am not a literate person and grew up in a shanty. The letter was prepared by PBF. I don't know what was written in it but as I thought this was an appeal and must have accurate content, therefore I signed the letter. But later I came to know that PBF wrongly mentioned that the plot was given to me by Gen. Ziaul Haq which is not the case. In fact, the plot was awarded to me by the Benazir government. I strongly believe that government might be reluctant to act on my appeal as they think the plot was awarded by Gen. Zia,” said the boxer.
Hussain, who has five children, is also desperate to get the possession of the plot as he now is pondering moving back to Pakistan in three years for which he would need a home in Karachi.
“I am planning to move to Pakistan in three years. But where will I live? I want my plot so that I can build a home and a gym where I will coach and live along with my family in a respectable manner,” said the boxer.
Hussain flayed the PBF claiming that the officials had promised him Rs 3 million for achieving the feat in 1988, but he never heard from them.
“I was promised by the PBF that they will give me three million rupees when I came to Pakistan in February this year. But I am still waiting for a positive response from them. I have heard PBF has asked for Rs70 million from the government for preparation of Olympic qualifiers. We are producing pathetic results at international events, and yet PBF wants such a huge amount. But they can't give Rs3 million to a boxer who is the only Olympic medallist
“In fact, I arranged the tour of PBF officials to Japan where president Doda Khan, one of his friends, secretary Akram Khan and another official Shamim came on the invitation of my gym. They were provided local hospitality by the president of my gym. And yet PBF is giving me a shabby treatment,” said the Olympian.
Hussain said although his son, 18-year-old Shah Hussain Shah, recently brought bronze for Pakistan at Under-20 JIKJI Cup International Judo Championship held in South Korea, he was the one bearing his and coach's expenses.
“My son played for Pakistan and earned the bronze. I paid for the tickets for him and his Japanese coach Takuji Kawai. But I am being treated badly. I want people in Pakistan, the government to understand that athletes like me who have earned laurels and honour for the country, need respect and awards for the recognition and encouragement of the sports,” he appealed.