PACKING A PUNCH

PACKING A PUNCH

QATAR Boxing Federation (QBF) President Yousuf Ali Al Kazim, who played a big role in the success of international boxing association (AIBA) World Championships which Doha hosted in October, 2015, said the competition had a positive impact on the country’s next generation of competitors. 

“The Worlds were a huge success and we could leave an indelible impression. It helped our boxers gain international mileage and also motivated them to do well at the Rio Olympics last year,” Al Kazim told Doha Stadium Plus.

Qatar made their Olympic debut at Rio after Hakan Erseker claimed his berth following his quarterfinal entry at the AIBA world qualifying tournament held in Baku, Azerbaijan, where he lost to eventual champion Enrico Lacruz of the Netherlands.

Welterweight boxer Thulasi Tharumalingam joined him at Rio following his entry into the final of World Series Olympic qualifier in Vargas, Venezuela, where he lost to Armenia’s Hovhannes Bachkov. 

As Qatar prepare for the Asian Confederation Men’s Elite Championships to qualify for this year’s Worlds in Hamburg, Germany, from August 25 to September 3, Al Kazim hoped the country’s competitors would put their best foot forward.

“It’s going to be a tough challenge, but we’ll definitely fight hard,” he added. 

What’re the targets of Qatari boxers?

Our boxers are preparing to qualify for the AIBA World Championships from the Asian competition in Baku, Azerbaijan, from June 1 to 15. They’re currently taking part in an open event in Baku from where they travel to Bangkok, Thailand (April 1 to 7) for another one. Next up for them are Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku from May12 to 22. 

Certain decisions came under scrutiny at the 2016 Rio Olympics. What’re the steps taken by AIBA to prevent such incidents?

The AIBA special investigation committee concluded its findings into the practices and procedures of officials during bouts at Rio. A total of 36 referees were banned. I really appreciate the stern action taken against them. There was an unwelcome axis of influence and sole decision-making, and it was misused by the officials. 

After Rio, AIBA changed the scoring system whereby the computer will now take points from all five judges unlike three previously. It had already been put into place. These changes will ensure even greater consistency and transparency in officiating. I hope the sport will come out clean. 

Do you plan to host any international referees and judges workshop?

At the domestic level, the QBF organises workshops and also send Qatari referees and judges to overseas courses. I don’t think we’ll host any such programmes in the next two-three months, but may’ve one in November. 

Has the economic crisis affected the QBF?

Budget has been cut, but we’ve a plan in place to manage expenses. We’ll now send teams only to quality competitions.

Will more schools be involved in promoting the sport?

The schools approach us if they’ve some talented boxers. We’ve different age categories and try to focus on the available pool. It’s not about the numbers, but the target is to have quality ones. We also need time. We’ve four young boxers, but the problem is they don’t want to continue in the sport after school.

Education is important for them and their parents won’t really want them to pursue the sport. It’s a difficult situation for all Qatari sports federations. I can’t stop someone who wants to focus on academics. We hope to solve this problem. 

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