Youngsters from the Kalyana Academy became the first female players to lay the foundation for women’s boxing in the country as they competed at the Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF) backed school tournament in Karachi’s District Central on Saturday.
The Inter-Classes Kalyana Boxing Tournament for girls and boys was more than just a regular junior event. According to the PBF officials and international referee Ali Akber Shah Qadri, the dream of formally introducing the sport for females after 15 years of planning had finally borne fruit.
The one-day competition featured 10 girls in five bouts between the ages of 10 to 13 years in weight categories of 22-48kg.
“We’ve never had female boxing in Pakistan before and this is just the beginning,” Qadri told The Express Tribune.
“I dreamt of this day 15 years ago. Back then, the Islami Nazariya Council had dismissed this notion. I had to bear zealous opposition from hardliners, but today we hope that Pakistan is a different society. Hopefully people will accept female boxers and they can make their name in the sport like the women from other countries have.”
During the competition, Warda Rafi defeated Ariba Rafi 2-1 while Noor-e-Saba outclassed Arsalah 3-0 and Zainab defeated Soniya 3-0. Fatima Furqan outplayed Samra 3-0 and Khatija overcame Sumera 2-1.
Mohamad Ali, Arsalan and Abdul Wasay also registered wins in the boys’ category.
Qadri further stated that moral support from the parents had proved important in helping the PBF and Kalyana Academy to take the first step.
“The parents wanted to see their daughters take up boxing. If girls can play wrestling, kabaddi, martial arts, then why not boxing?”
According to Kalyana Academy Boxing Programme Director and Karachi Boxing Association official Syed Ashraf Ali, the girls had shown interest to participate in the event after watching the boys train.
“When they showed their interest, I told them that they would need at least a month’s training before coming in the ring with our coach Rafiullah. They took up the task.
“Coming inside the ring is the biggest challenge. It’s about driving the fear away before performing in front of the spectators. I hope other academies and schools in the country can also take inspiration from this event,” said Ali.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2014.
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