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Boxing in his blood

Posted on 11:23 PM by Shoaib Anwer

For Siddiq Qambrani, former member of the national boxing team, boxing is not a fight between two rivals but the application of technique to defend oneself and hit the rival well. While his friends and fans may lament that Siddiq only studied up to class nine, but he led the national boxing team as a winner from 1962 to 1970. He continued playing till 1978 before retiring.

Born in 1942, Siddiq Qambrani grew up in the traditional boxing atmosphere of Lyari. His father, Ali Mohammed Qambrani, was among the founders of boxing in Pakistan, and launched his own Muslim Azad Boxing Club to attract the youth of Lyari, and train them to become players of international repute. The club was renamed as Ali Mohammed Qambrani Boxing Club to pay tribute to the great boxer of the sub continent. Siddiq’s elder brother, Yaqub Qambrani, led the National Boxing Federation.

Siddiq said it was his own wish to play friendly matches earlier but then he got a chance to lead the national team abroad. He has traversed much of the world during his career, using the skills he acquired from his elders and teachers to bring home many accolades. He has also performed as a coach for teams of different major organisations of the city and is still seen enthusiastic about guiding young players.

“All the children in our family were inspired by their elders, who lived and practiced the sport in the same boundary wall. After school, they would all come to the family club and start practicing.

Hence, boxing became their hobby. My sons and nephews are now playing with national teams, representing Pakistan abroad,” he said.

Qambrani’s most memorable fight was against an Israeli boxer at the 1970 Asian Games held in Bangkok, Thailand. “It was a historic contest between a Pakistani and an Israeli. There were nine other players in our team, but I took the fight as a challenge and defeated him.

“My opponent was the champion of Israel, and was famous for knocking out rivals in the second round. When I came out to the boxing ring, my rival was dancing as he probably thought that I was not strong enough and he would beat me easily. However, as it turned out, I beat him so severely in the first round that by the start of the second round, he was completely flattened,” he narrated.

“There is a code of conduct in every sport and all sportsmen have to follow it. In boxing, after the round ends, both players hug each other despite being rivals. Since it is a game to entertain the audience, players do not act as if they are at war where they have to kill the rival,” he said. “Interestingly though, after that match, Israel never sent its players to take part in the Asian games and rather preferred to play in World Cups only.”

While Qambrani is currently engaged in guiding his young protégés at the family club in Lyari, he lamented successive governments’ failure in supporting various sports, especially boxing. However, he remains hopeful that the incumbent Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led government may work to promote this sport. According to him, the government has decided to announce some grants for sports activities and boxing clubs must be a beneficiary of this policy.