KARACHI: Real estate tycoon Malik Riaz has announced a prize of Rs1 million for Muhammad Waseem, who became Pakistan’s first boxer to win the World Boxing Council Silver flyweight title.
He defeated Jether Oliva of the Philippines in Seoul, South Korea on Sunday. While announcing the prize money for Waseem, Riaz hoped the 28-year old pugilist would continue earning honours for the country.
Waseem, who hails from Quetta and is nicknamed Falcon, is the only Pakistani boxer competing in the professional circuit. He made a move to professional boxing after getting disheartened with the Pakistan Boxing Federation’s negligence towards the boxers.
Muhammad Waseem hopes boxers receive respect in Pakistan
Waseem has promised his fans there is more to come, revealing that he has his eyes set on the WBC title. The 28-year-old had a 100% knockout record before this bout with three knockouts in three professional fights but Oliva was the more experienced boxer, with 31 fights to his name.
Waseem dominated the fight but could not knock Oliva out. However, he won the title through a unanimous decision after fighting 12 rounds. “I’m happy that I can be an example [to follow] now,” Waseem told The Express Tribune. “I don’t think there has ever been a boxer who switched to professional competitions from amateur and won a WBC title in such a short span of time.”
The pugilist labelled the fight the most important fight of his life, as he wanted to prove that Pakistani boxers can be successful also and can make a name for themselves despite all the odds.
“When I came to Korea and then went to the US, I realised that boxers are really well taken care of; that people respect boxers and their talent,” said Waseem. “That is something we never get in Pakistan, I am grateful to my friends and fans, but the authorities don’t really care.”
Waseem becomes Pakistan's first silver flyweight champion
Like many other athletes, Waseem bemoaned the lack of interest in sports other than cricket. “In Pakistan there is respect and interest in cricket only,” he said. “I sometimes struggle to explain to people abroad why we don’t get much support from our own country.”
Waseem said he is hoping that attitude towards boxing changes after his win but vowed to carry on even if it doesn’t.
“I hope people watched my bout since I gave it my all,” said Waseem. “And despite everything, I’m a Pakistani so whatever I win belongs to Pakistan.”
Riaz had earlier gifted 50,000 pounds to the Pakistani cricket team on its historic victory at Lord’s.
The head of Pakistan’s leading property and estate conglomerate was so impressed by the performance of the green shirts that he announced almost a Rs7 million gift.
Riaz was present in the stadium when Pakistan secured its first victory at the Lord’s after around 20 years.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2016.
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