KARACHI: It has been the worst performance by Pakistan at the Asian Games and boxer Muhammad Waseem feels the Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF) needs to change their ways from nepotism to merit-based selection.
Waseem became Pakistan’s first boxer to win the World Boxing Council title in 2016, but his biggest gifts to Pakistan as an amateur boxer were the medals at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the 2014 Asian Games.
“It is disappointing and shameful at the same time,” Waseem told The Express Tribune. “They do not understand that they can’ just send their favourites, have incompetent trainers and just take these Games as formality, but that is the tradition of PBF. They never had proper trials either, in fact it is mostly about who likes who. And that goes for the coaches and trainers too. Pakistan has plenty of good coaches, younger ones that the federation doesn’t want to use. In fact, a lot of boxers from the camp also called me, telling the stories about how there were no proper trials, and even for the girls, the PBF secretary would train them. It is all shambolic.”
The PBF fielded 10 boxers, including three women, who made their debut for the country at the Games, but only one, Naqeebullah managed to reach the quarter-finals of the 56kg event, while the rest fizzled out easily.
On the other hand, back in 2014, Waseem recalled that the draws were much more difficult, when he lost to an Uzbek pugilist in flyweight, who went on to win a gold medal in Rio.
“It was tough for me too. We had Commonwealth Games in 2014 before the Asian Games and the PBF made us stay in such dreary place, that we used to sleep under a staircase at some place in Islamabad, but I wanted to do something, so I carried on, but it is not easy. The federation doesn’t even give these boxers something to eat properly, how are they going to compete at the top level?” asked Waseem.
He added that he is not holding anything against any boxers either.
“They go, they lose and it is their record that gets bludgeoned, the PBF just takes it as a formality,” said Waseem.
But he emphasised that it is about time that PBF got new coaches and trainees instead of using the old ones who are not up to the mark.
“I got those medals not by training with some Cuban or foreign coaches, I coached with Muhammad Tariq, he is a local trainer, but very up to date with modern techniques and knowledge. However the PBF wouldn’t use him, instead they would take those old friends all the time, and that really doesn’t make any difference,” said Waseem.
He concluded by saying that he is always there to support boxers and boxing in Pakistan.
“I’m no longer affiliated with the PBF, but it does make me feel bad and frustrated that they are abusing the boxers here. I will speak for the boxers in every way that I can, because they can’t, because they are still stuck in the system which PBF is not willing to improve or change,” said Waseem.
The PBF is run by Muhammad Khalid Mahmood and Lt Col Nasir Ijaz Tung.