National boxing squad for Olympic qualifying round reduced to five

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ISLAMABAD, Jun 14 (APP): Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF) has reduced the seven-member boxing outfit to five for participation in the last qualifying round for the summer’s Rio Olympics due to some medical issues.

According to PBF Secretary, Iqbal Hussain the United States-born Umar Cheema (64kg) and Amir Khan (69kg) would not be featuring in the qualifying round due to some medical issues.

“Those vying in the event to fulfill their Olympic dream include Awais Ali Khan (81kg), Mohammad Tanveer (75kg), Ali Ahmed (60kg), Niamatullah (56kg) and Mohammad Asif (52kg),” he said.

The five-member Pakistani boxing outfit departed for Baku, Azerbaijan from Islamabad Airport on late Monday to feature in the qualifying round.

Boxers from around the world would chip in these qualifiers scheduled to be held from June 16 to 25.

Iqbal sounded optimistic that at least a couple of Pakistani boxers would be able to make a cut to the Rio.

“All our boxers are in a good shape. I am sure the nation will soon hear good news,” he added.

The PBF had set up an extensive training programme for 20 boxers at the camp under national boxing coach Arshad Hussain, an International Boxing Association (AIBA) three-star coach.

Arshad was assisted by former international and AIBA one-star coach Nisar Khan.

If any Pakistani boxer qualifies for Rio Olympics, it will be after a gap of 12 years that the country will have representation in boxing at the world’s most prestigious multi-sports event. Pakistan’s last appearance at Olympics in boxing was in 2004, when five Pakistani boxers featured in various weight categories in Athens. However, none of them could advance to the quarterfinal stage.

Syed Hussain Shah won a bronze medal for Pakistan in boxing in the middleweight division (71 – 75 kg) at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.

He is one of the only two individual Olympic medalists for the country till date.