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Afghan boxer wins ‘Fight 4 Peace’
Hamid Rahimi is a double champion after beating Tanzanian in Afghanistan’s 1st professional boxing match.
By Safiullah Stanikzai
KABUL – Afghan world middleweight boxing champion Hamid Rahimi advocates peace through sports.
“I won this belt through sports, so let’s leave war and weapons aside and wear gloves, start football and different sports,” Rahimi told Central Asia Online October 31 in an exclusive interview.
Millions of Afghans watched the “Fight 4 Peace” bout in which Rahimi, 29, defeated his Tanzanian opponent, Said Mbelwa, by a technical knockout, in the first-ever professional boxing match held in Afghanistan October 30.
Mbelwa conceded defeat 17 seconds into the 7th round of the battle for the World Boxing Organisation (WBO) intercontinental middleweight title, brought down by a shoulder injury.
Rahimi took the middleweight belt, his second besides a World Boxing Union middleweight title that he won in February by defeating Ruslan Rodivich of Belarus.
Rahimi dedicated his victory to all Afghans and called on them to abandon war and to pursue peace through sports.
“Afghanistan won this championship,” he said. “I am really happy that from an Afghan boy I turned into a double world champion, and I really thank Allah for giving me this opportunity. This belt is not mine; this belt is Afghanistan's.”
Mbelwa was gracious in defeat.
“I know this is a very special event for Afghanistan and sent a very important message for the whole world,” he said in the ring. “We came to fight for peace, and I really congratulate Hamid on his victory.”
Victory cheers Afghan fans
“Hamid had a really good fight; he crushed his rival in the seventh round,” Afghan fan Tooryalay Kocahy told Central Asia Online.
“We are really happy that our Afghan champion won the fight.”.
“We are really happy that tonight our Afghan hero Rahimi won this championship,” another jubilant fan, Jamshid, said. “This is an honour and source of pride to all Afghans because this was a fight for peace.”
The victory gives Rahimi a professional record of 21 wins, including nine knockouts, and one defeat. Born in Kabul in 1983, he grew up in Germany, where his family fled when he was nine. Jamaican-German boxer and trainer Owen Reece discovered Rahimi in 2003. He had his first professional fight in 2006.
The victory makes Rahimi one of Afghanistan’s few sporting celebrities. Another is taekwondist Rohullah Nikpai, who won bronze medals at the Beijing and London Olympics.