Eleven-year-old Mohammad Walid is waiting for May 1.
Working in a restaurant in daytime and studying in the evening, the Lyari resident starts at 8 am to train with the Trans-Lyari Boxing Club coach Abdul Majeed Brohi.
For the past month, however, Walid has been working hard just to take on Lyari’s under-13 champion and Pak Boxing club’s Muhammad Zeeshan at the Karachi South Boxing Championship to be held on May 1, where more than 20 clubs will be represented by participants aged 10 to 13.
Walid considers boxing his route to stardom, attending school on the side just because his father forces him to.
“If I defeat Zeeshan in the championship, I’ll make my club proud,” Walid told The Express Tribune. “Everybody in the area will know that I’m the strongest kid around and nobody will pick on me.”
According to his coach Brohi, the championship is the biggest event for the children in Lyari: They work hard for it and even skip school to train. Walid, according to the coach, is one of his best boxers and has learnt to balance work, studies and sport at a very young age. He added that it was an encouraging trend in Lyari – notorious for drugs and gang wars – that the children get involved in sports and study at the same time instead of wasting their lives on the streets.
Brohi, who opened his boxing club in 2004, is training 22 children and for most of these aspiring boxers, the sport is more than a hobby. It is, in fact, a perfect way out of the drugs and weapons handed to children in their locality.
Tournament organiser Asghar Baloch said that the idea behind holding the under-13 tournament was to encourage these children to engage in positive activities. He said that the South Boxing Association, which has 22 clubs registered with it, has to ensure that events for children take place more regularly since constant competition would keep them interested in the sport.
Sharing Baloch’s view, Brohi said that as a coach, an important lesson that he needs to share is for these children to ensure the fight remains inside the ring and not spilt onto the streets. It also needs him to act as a mentor to them who are exposed to all kinds of people.
For anyone who has seen the streets of Lyari, the initiative remains one to keenly follow.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 28th, 2011.