Pakistani refugee boxer fought for detained asylum seekers on Manus Island

Published: December 22, 2018
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Papua New Guinea champion John Korake (right) fights Pakistani Refugee Ezatullah Kakar for the Oceania professional boxing championship in Port Moresby.  PHOTO COURTESY: TWITTER/ @EzatullahKakar

Papua New Guinea champion John Korake (right) fights Pakistani Refugee Ezatullah Kakar for the Oceania professional boxing championship in Port Moresby. PHOTO COURTESY: TWITTER/ @EzatullahKakar

A Pakistani refugee, who has spent more than four years in a detention centre on Manus Island, went on to challenge Papua New Guinea’s light heavyweight boxing champion for a title on Saturday evening.

Ezatullah Kakar challenged the 37-year-old PNG champion John Korake in a fight at the newly formed Oceania professional boxing championship held at the Papua New Guinea capital Port Moresby, according to The Guardian

In his latest tweet, Kakar appreciated everyone who had supported him despite the loss, adding that, “Going after 6 years in a professional ring and fighting with undefeated champion was a great experience.”

Kakar, a 26-year-old former champion kickboxer and silver medalist mixed martial arts competitor from Quetta, said he was fighting on behalf of other refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru, sent there under Australia’s offshore processing system.

“After I left Manus almost one year ago I’ve been in Port Moresby. I’ve had two fights and this is my third fight for the title with the PNG champion. I’m very positive I can go well, that I can get to him very easily. I believe in myself and my training and my work.” Kakar was quoted by the British daily as saying.

Kakar hoped to go on to challenge New Zealand and Australian title holders someday.

Australia and Papua New Guinea under an agreement have sent thousands of asylum seekers to detention centres on Manus Island over the past six years. The system is widely criticised by human rights groups and international governments.

After the PNG supreme court declared the detention unconstitutional, the two governments embarked on a shutdown process, culminating it the decommissioning of the centre late last year. However hundreds of men refused to leave, citing safety fears in the Manus community.

Kakar remained at the centre on Manus Island throughout the standoff, and collected food and medical supplies from outside the centre until they were forcibly evicted.

“In the last days, on Manus Island, it was very hard,” he said.

Kakar has been supported by Father Dave Smith, an Australian Anglican priest who campaigns for refugees detained offshore and who visited Manus Island during the standoff.

Smith said Kakar felt Manus Island had made him tough.

Pakistani refugee (left) with an Australian Anglican priest Father Dave Smith (right). PHOTO COURTESY: Western Advocate, Australia

“Thanks to the Australian government he’s become a very tough guy. He was becoming a prominent athlete in Pakistan which is why the Taliban started to take exception to him,” Smith said.

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