THE Bahrain national team boxers embarked on an ambitious journey yesterday with the ultimate aim to seek a berth in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Seven boxers and two coaches left for Dubai yesterday to take part in the Clash of the Countries to be organised by Sovereign Boxing Association tomorrow at Meydan Hotel.
The participating countries are Ireland, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Morocco and hosts the UAE.
Dubai is the first stop and the event on Friday just the beginning for a bunch of passionate Bahraini boxers for whom the sky is the limit.
The dream is to win a berth in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the Dubai event is only a stepping stone, according to Bahrain coaches Tony Davis and Jassim Darwish.
“The Dubai event is a step up in class in the development of our boxers,” said Davis, a former ABA senior light heavyweight champion, who took over the Bahrain national team in January.
“Basically, we started in January so it’s been only 11 months. But we started competing only in April. For Bahrain, boxing is a new sport you see, so we are developing very quickly,” said the 45-year-old former British Army Staff Sergeant.
Is he satisfied with the development of his boxers so far?
“I have high standards, so I always want more. There is always room for improvement. We are heading in the right direction,” added Davis, who has so far taken his boxers to seven events, two in Bahrain and one each in Thailand, the UAE, Ukraine, Kuwait and Fujairah.
“We have done a lot in a short space of time, so I’m happy with what I have done. What we have to do now is keep the momentum going and keep pushing through.”
On return from Dubai, Davis wants to reassess the performance of his boxers and then turn his focus to the Olympic qualifiers to be held in China in February. The four semi-finalists in the qualifiers book berths for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“The Dubai event is not only preparation but also selection criteria. In January, we travel to Bulgaria, probably for a world training camp. We will spend 10 days in Sohpia and then take part in a six-day tournament which will be very competitive.
“Then we will be back in Bahrain for a few days and off to China,” concluded Davis.
Among the seven boxers in Dubai, Ali Saeed is perhaps the youngest and also the most ambitious.
The 19-year-old, who took up boxing five years ago, has seven bouts to his credit and won six of them.
“I took up boxing because I like to be combative and want to enjoy being an athlete,” said the second year business student at the Bahrain Polytechnic.
“I’m still developing as a boxer and my ultimate aim is to make it to the 2024 Olympics,” Ali, the youngest of three brothers added.
Boxing or combat sport runs in their family as his eldest brother is a former boxer and the elder one a judo enthusiasts.
Ali is a very articulate young man and weighs his words carefully before answering any question. He is also very balanced in executing his plans, be it in the ring or in the classroom.
“If I’m not tired mentally, I’m tired physically because of boxing. And if I’m not tired physically, I’m tired mentally because of my studies,” he said about the pressures of his tight schedule and the way he handles his studies and his sport without allowing one to affect the other.
He is also confident of succeeding in both.
“I’m confident about my training, about my skill. I want to perform, irrespective of win or lose, and that is I want to do in Dubai and in the future,” signed off Ali, who takes on an Irish boxer in Dubai in the 63kg category.
Abdulla Fadhel is another Bahraini boxer brimming with confidence ahead of the Dubai event.
The 28-year-old full time boxer has a 12-12 record including two victories representing Bahrain.
“I have full confidence in myself. I train hard and fight hard and winning is a habit with me,” said the 69-kg category boxer whose ultimate dream is also, you guessed it right … the Olympic Games.