Boxing for a bright future | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 06, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, March 06, 2010

Boxing for a bright future

Monirul Islam of Sipahibagh Jubo Kalyan Sangsad (R) lands a right-handed jab on Monbur Rahman of BKSP during the 21st National Junior Boxing Championship in Dhaka on Thursday. Many young boxers from Jessore and Rajshahi are taking up the sport with the hopes of landing a job in the defence sector to secure their future. PHOTO: ANISUR RAHMAN

Boxing has a long way to go to gain popularity amongst the general people. While internationally the sport is quite high-profile, it is still very much at it's infancy in Bangladesh and lags far behind cricket and football in the popularity rankings. However, a quick skim over the Rajshahi and Jessore regions in the country would speak of a different story as a large number of youngsters from those areas are taking up the sport.
Bangladesh have so far won four boxing gold's in the South Asian Games since the inception of the regional games in 1984 and of them three of the gold medallist boxers hail from Rajshahi and Jessore.
There might be a general thought among the people that the junior boxers are being inspired to box following the success of their predecessors in the regions, but the fact is that they are being encouraged to get into the sport with the dreams of getting a government job in the future.
After having talked to a number of junior boxers and coaches on the opening day of the 21st Junior and 12th Intermediate Boxing Championship that got underway on Monday at the newly-build Mohammad Ali Boxing Stadium, it is clear that the parents of the boxers enrolled their children to the boxing clubs with a hope that their child will land a job, especially in defence.
"It is not that the boys are coming into boxing because of some deep love of the sports rather their parents enrol their children to make sure his son's good future because they know it well that if their son grows into a good boxer, he will get a job in defence," Jessore Boxing Club coach Robiul Hossain told The Daily Star.
Robiul informed that Jessore Boxing Club and Mominnagar Preti Parisad now have over 1000 students and most of the students come from an under-privileged group.
The 59-year coach also informed that some 11 players recently got admission to his club ahead of their admission test in the Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Protisthan where 14 students out of 23 got the initial training from the Jessore Boxing Club.
Some 40 boxers from the Jessore Boxing Club took part in the championship under the name of different organisations because each team was allowed to field only 10 boxers in as many categories -- five for junior and five for intermediate boxers.
Swan, a student of Class IV, got admission into the Jessore Boxing Club one month earlier and came to Dhaka to play in the championship, but he burst into tears before the announcement of the result. Surprisingly he was declared the winner in the first round and the boy had a big smile on his face and hugged the loser.
"I never fought in the ring and thought I went down. That's why I had started to cry, but finally I won the game," said Swan, a son of a small trader.
Asked why he chose to box rather than play cricket and football, Swan said, "If I become a good boxer in future then it will be easy to get a job in the army."
Al Safar, who came from Rajshahi, was also quick to reply. "Boxing will give us a job in the future. Besides, it makes us healthy," said Safar, a class VII student, who came into boxing eight months before.
Istiaq Ahmed, a student of Class VI and a son of tailor, supported Safar's opinion.
Azmir Hossain, a student of class X came from Jessore, added that boxing teaches them how to defend themselves.
However, Shafiul Alam Masud, a coaches at the Rajshahi Modern Boxing Club and Bangladesh Ansar, said that the parents not only enrol their children for a hope of getting job, but also to keep encourage discipline in their children.
"We always take care of each of our boxers looking into their education, personal life and their friends and these things inspire the parents to enrol their children in boxing," said Masud adding that they have now over 300 students.
The coach said some of the parents have been inspired at the success of the SA Games gold medalist Jewel Ahmed and promised to enrol their children into boxing.
Meanwhile, some 300 budding boxers from 64 districts, education boards, pourashavas, boxing clubs participated in the five-day competition.

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