KARACHI: Pakistan’s only World Boxing Council (WBC) champion Muhammad Waseem believes that the National Boxing Championship in the country is nothing more than a joke and an example of nepotism.
Waseem himself has suffered greatly over the years by the lack of professionalism and politics among the Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF) that had forced him to quit amateur boxing altogether in 2015.
This year’s 36th National Boxing Championship took place in Lahore, but the highlight of the event was not the talent at display but the fact that the boxers were unsatisfied and protested after their matches. The event saw a pause of 20 minutes because of the protest. Army won the gold meda, while Wapda and Pakistan Air Force took the second and third positions respectively, but Waseem believes that the decisions made at the championship are usually one-sided.
“I can talk about these things today because I’m not a part of PBF in anyway,” Waseem told The Express Tribune. “The players are not chosen on merit, neither are those referee judges fair. In fact it is the federation’s secretary and the president that hold the most leverage. It is always about their favourite players and departments.” Waseem reminisced that he had to hold the same protests against the same nepotism in 2007 and 2010 at the national championships when he knew he had won the bouts in 52kg events but still the referee judges chose his opponents as winners.
“I have faced this first hand,” said Waseem. “It is a double trouble for the person who dares to speak. For example I suffered because not only was the decision given in my bouts was wrong, I was also chastised for speaking up against this. So these boxers who protested will also bear the brunt.” Waseem feels that his dream of representing the country at the Olympics was partly shattered because the PBF chose boxer Amir Khan’s younger brother Haroon Khan in the 52kg event for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, overlooking him.
“They asked me to lose weight and fight in 49 kg just to accommodate Haroon, yes that happened. I had won the World Combat Games gold medal. I thought I was in great form for the next Olympics, but then PBF did what they did, and the same thing continues now, the real talent would never make it to the top,” said Wasem.
He pointed out that the selection for the national squad would also be biased when it comes to the upcoming Commonwealth Games.
“If they are getting the boxers from the national championships that won because of favouritism, how are they going to win medals for the country at the Commonwealth Games? It is like they are all going for a free ride,” said Waseem.