KARACHI: World Boxing Council (WBC) champion Muhammad Waseem received his Pride of Performance award on Pakistan Day as recognition for his efforts, but he believes that the government needs to be more proactive in promoting sports.
The 29-year-old, last year, became the first Pakistani boxer to ever win a WBC title; he defeated Jether Oliva in July to clinch the WBC Silver flyweight title, and then successfully defended it in November against Giemel Magramo.
But despite such a major feat, he did not get much support from Pakistan when it came to finding sponsors for his WBC world title bout.
“It is a good award to receive; I’m happy as recognition is always nice,” Waseem told The Express Tribune. “I’m glad that President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain knows about my achievement. I find some motivation in this award too, but I feel the government really needs to focus more on promoting sports like boxing and football, instead of being fixated on cricket.”
He further lamented, “I’ve won the WBC title and it’s not as if people don’t appreciate it; they do. But the government needs to do more. The Prime Minister of Pakistan [Muhammad Nawaz Sharif] announced a cash award, but I never really got that money. I’m still waiting for those funds to be transferred to my promoter in Korea; realistically I haven’t received much support.”
Waseem added that the trend of announcing awards and cash prizes only hurts athletes, while the aspiring boxers get disheartened too when they see their heroes suffer.
“My request to the government is to put in money for development of boxing. In my club in Quetta there are 250-300 boxers. They train each day, but then they see me, still struggling to make ends meet, they feel bad. In order to give the athletes a good future the government needs to prioritise on sports,” said Waseem.
With his win in November, Sharif announced a Rs30million grant, while Peshawar Zalmi owner Javed Afridi announced Rs2.5million; Chief Minister of Balochistan, meanwhile, said that he would give Rs0.5m and business tycoon Malik Riaz said that he would give Rs1m to Waseem after his bout in July but none of the amounts ever came through.
“They all come to us, take pictures and stand with us, but then they never follow it up, they do it all for publicity, but it hurts us, it has hurt me,” said Waseem.
He added that he is trying to have a fight with American boxer this year, but he will need at least three months to train.
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