"I’ve got the bronze medal. It means so much to me."
Ever since the early 70s, Pakistani boxers have enjoyed success both at home and in various international boxing competitions.
The “Land of the Pure” boasts many champions and medallists across the different boxing weight classes.
The Lyari locality of Karachi seems to be somewhat of an epicentre for producing the very best Pakistani boxers.
One of them, Hussain Shah made history in the middleweight division at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Lyari is also the home of the famous Qambrani boxing family.
Most of these Pakistani boxers have gone on to achieve great things in the sport. This is quite phenomenal, considering many came from humble backgrounds, with very little facilities.
Their accomplishments have allowed people to rejoice with the nation, putting Pakistan very much on the boxing world map.
The elite boxers of Pakistan were even fortunate to mingle with the greatest boxer of all time, late Muhammad Ali (USA). During a visit in 1989, Muhammad surely must have given some useful advice and tips to several Pakistani boxers.
Muhammad Waseem from Pakistan’s south-western province is a stand-out boxer, particularly from a modern-era perspective.
We showcase 10 famous Pakistani boxers who have demonstrated their skills in the ring.
Lal Saeed Khan
Lal Saaed Khan is a former professional boxer and trainer from Peshawar, Pakistan. It was in 1969, that saw the beginning of his boxing adventure.
He was lucky to have the services of some great trainers, including Yaqoob Kamrani (PAK) and Tom John (USA).
He tells The Express Tribune how the two had a key contribution in refining his talent and winning the national championships:
“Both coaches helped me tremendously in polishing my skills. That is what helped me retain my title as national champion for eight years.”
Lal went on to represent Pakistan in many global competitions. Securing a gold medal for Pakistan at the 1971 Hilali Cup in Sri Lanka is one of his biggest success stories.
After a successful career, Lal began training youngsters. This includes serving the Pakistan Navy as a physical trainer for almost two decades.
Lal was instrumental in helping the Navy team to dominate boxing on a national level. In recognition to his boxing service, Lal was conferred with Presidential Pride of Performance award in 2010.
Earlier in 1974, Chief of the Naval Staff conferred him with an award of ‘Outstanding Performance.’
Jan Muhammad Baloch
Jan Muhammad Baloch was a prominent boxer and coach from Pakistan. He was born in the Lyari area of Karachi during 1950.
Jan began fighting apparently from the age of ten, affiliating himself with the Muslim Azad Boxing Club in 1972. He was the national champion under his category for quite some years, beginning from 1972.
The same year he picked up his first major gold medal at the Asian Boxing Championship in South Korea. In 1973, he won a gold medal for Pakistan at the Hilali Cup, which took place in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Two years later he also collected gold at the 1975 RCD Boxing Championship in Ankara, Turkey.
Modelling himself to heavyweight boxer Muhammad Ali, Jan became a dominant force in boxing for a decade.
Former chairman of Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF) Referees-Judges Commission, Ali Akbar Shah told the News that Jan was a good fighter, despite not winning more at a global level:
“Although he may not have lifted more international medals, altogether he was a fine boxer.”
Following retirement, he went onto become a boxing coach for twenty odd years. Eminent Pakistani boxer Hussain Shah was amongst his pupils.
Jan sadly left this world due to liver cirrhosis on August 3, 2012. He was laid to rest in his hometown Karachi.
Abrar Hussain was one of the most renowned Pakistani boxers, competing in the welterweight and light middleweight divisions.
He was born as Syed Abrar Hussain Shah into an ethnically Hazara family in Quetta on February 9, 1961.
He made his name after winning gold at the 1990 Asian Games that took place in Beijing, China. Five years later, he repeated the same feat at the 1985 South Asian Games in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
During his illustrious career, Abrar clinched 11 gold, 6 silver and 5 bronze medals across national and global events.
He also won several highest-civilian awards during his career, presented by the serving president. They include Sitara-i-Imtiaz (Star of Excellence: 1989) and Presidents Gold Medal in 1991.
Later after retiring, he became the chairman of the Baluchistan Sports Board.
On June 16, 2011, Abrar was tragically assassinated outside his office. His death at the age of 50 was a big loss for Pakistani boxing and sports.
Hussain Shah is amongst the top Pakistani boxers, especially after his Olympic heroics. He was born as Syed Hussain Shah in Lyari, Karachi, Pakistan on August 14, 1964.
Growing up on the streets, Hussain began training himself using garbage bags for punching. He was a five-times gold medallist in the middleweight category at the South Asian Games between 1984-1991.
He was adjudged the ‘Best Boxer’ at the 1987 edition held in Kolkata. However, it was at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea that Hussain made history.
Hussain and Chris Sande (KEN) both won a bronze medal each in the middleweight division, after making the last four.
Thus, he became the first athlete from Pakistan to win a boxing medal at the Olympics.
He had a very big welcome upon returning to Pakistan as an Olympic bronze medallist.
Subsequently, the government of Pakistan bestowed him with the Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 1989.
He later shifted to Japan, where he trained Japanese boxers. A biopic made on him came out on Independence Day.
Releasing on August 14, 2015, the Adnan Sarwar directorial highlights his challenging life and rise to stardom.
Arshad Hussain is a former gold medal medal-winning boxing champion from Pakistan. He was born on March 3, 1967.
Arshad became a gold medallist at the 6th South Asian Games in Bangladesh, being victorious against India.
He came to the forefront during the 15th Commonwealth Games between August 18-28, 1994. Victoria, Canada was the host of this multisport competition.
Arshad was competing in the men’s lightweight 60 kg category. In the preliminary round, he beat Niusila Seili (SAM) 22-7. In the quarter-finals, he overcame Koloba Sehloho (LES) 20-7.
Despite losing his semi-final match, he won a bronze medal. This was one of six medals that Pakistan achieved at the Games.
Earlier in 1992, Arshad also had represented Pakistan at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. Spain.
After retiring from the sport, Arshad has gone onto coach many Pakistani boxers. He is an AIBA 3 star international boxing coach.
Abdul Rasheed Baloch
Abdul Rasheed Baloch was a former Pakistani professional boxer who has many accolades to his name. The orthodox boxer was born in Hyderabad, Pakistan on April 7, 1972.
Abdul had a successful amateur career, turning out to be one of the best fighters of his time.
He had many triumphant achievements in the boxing ring in the mid-90s. These include Gold in the Agon Cup Malaysia and silver at the South Asian Games.
In 1999 after heading for Tokyo, he became a professional boxer. In 2001 he went to Australia, claiming the New South Wales State Middle title.
He was the winner against Joel Bourke (AUS), courtesy of a technical decision at Airplane Hanger 4, Department of Defence, Dubbo, New South Wales, Australia.
The fight versus Bourke consisted of ten rounds. In 2004-2005, he made his way for Liberia to train the Pakistan Army boxing team who were there under a United Nation Mission.
His final professional win was when he got the better off Rico Chong Nee (NZL), with a technical knockout. The six-round contest took place at Manurewa Netball Centre, Manurewa, New Zealand on March 27, 2009.
Since retiring from the sport, Abdul has gone on to serve as the President of the Pakistan Boxing Council (PBC).
In the boxing ring, he was familiar to many by the nickname of Black Mamba.
Haider Ali is a former professional featherweight boxer and Commonwealth Games gold medallist. He took boxing inspiration from his 1988 hero Hussain Shah.
He was born in Quetta, Pakistan on November 12, 1979. In 1998, the orthodox boxer became national champion in his weight division.
The same year, he also had to settle for a bronze medal at the Bangkok Asian Games, after making the semi-finals.
He then went onto win three gold medals within the space of a few years. His first two came at the 1999 Kathmandu South Asian Games and 2002 Seremban Asian Championships.
He left his best to the last, winning gold at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.
What made it more special for Haider was beating arch-rival Som Bahadur Pun (IND) by 28-10 over four rounds.
This was the first time Pakistan won a boxing gold medal at the Commonwealth Games. After his fantastic victory, the lone gold medallist from Manchester 2002, said:
“I am really glad that I gave my colleagues something to cheer about.”
The featherweight final took place at the Manchester Arena. Following his triumph, the Pakistan government honoured him with the prestigious order of merit.
From 2003 onwards, after signing with Frank Warren promotions he had a brief yet indifferent professional career.
Despite representing Pakistan, Haider is a resident of the United Kingdom.
Ali Mohammad Qambrani
Ali Mohammad Qambrani was a very gifted fighter who came from a renowned family of boxers.
He is the son of international boxer Siddique Qambrani, Siddique became famous after toppling an Israeli fighter at the 1970 Asian Games in Bangkok, Thailand.
His namesake grandfather was one of the early pioneers of boxing in Pakistan. He was also the founder of the Muslim Azad Boxing Club in Karachi.
It was grandson Ali that eventually became the golden boy of the family. He started boxing from the age of twelve. From 1990 to 1999, Ali was a member of the Pakistan national boxing squad.
As a junior, he was second best, collecting a silver medal at the 1994 Asian Games.
A year later, in 1995, he was first on the podium, picking up a gold medal at the Asian Boxing Championships.
Manilla, the capital of the Philippines was the host city of this Championship. It was then gold yet again for Ali at the 1997 Quaid-e-Azam international boxing event.
However, at the age of fourty tragedy struck as Ali passed away in Lyari General Hospital during October 2009. A day earlier, Ali was experiencing severe pain in his head.
Muhammad Waseem is a professional boxer, famously known as the Falcon. The fast and swift orthodox boxer was born in Quetta, Baluchistan, Pakistan on August 29, 1987.
He had a very productive amateur career, picking up several medals. This includes a flyweight gold at the World Combat Games in Beijing, China.
However, it was at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games that Waseem came to the party.
Waseem may have received a gold medal had it not been for his slow tempo in this particular match, as well as some questionable judging.
Nevertheless, a silver medal in the flyweight category was a huge second prize at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre.
During his amateur days, he spent time training in Korea, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Italy. Muhammad Tariq (PAK) and Francisco Hernandez Ronald (CUB) are some of his coaches from the past.
Waseem who was also an undefeated national champion became a professional in 2015.
Ever since turning pro, Waseem became the 2015 South Korea Bantamweight champion and won the 2016 WBC Silver flyweight titles.
Haroon Khan is a British based Pakistani professional boxer, He was born as Haroon Iqbal Khan into a Punjabi Rajput family in Bolton, Lancashire, England on May 10, 1991.
Going by the alias Harry, he is the younger brother of former unified light-welterweight champion Amir Khan. Following the footsteps of his brother, Haroon began his journey as an amateur boxer.
Representing Pakistan at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi was the highlight of his amateur career. Competing in the flyweight 52 kg category, he made his family roots proud by clinching a bronze medal.
Haroon along with Oteng Oteng (BOT) guaranteed a bronze medal after reaching the semi-finals. Expressing his joy after becoming a bronze medallist, Haroon stated:
“My aim was to come here and stand on that podium and I’ve got the bronze medal. It means so much to me. I’m sure my family’s so happy.”
A few years later he became a professional boxer, having a hundred per cent record.
From 2013 to 2017 he won every fight, which included three knockouts.
Many other legendary and contemporary Pakistani boxers also have medals to their name. They include Siraj Din, Shaukat Ali, Asghar Ali Shah and Imtiaz Mahmood.
The golden spell for Pakistan boxing between the 70s and 90s certainly paved the way for Pakistani boxers going into the new Millenium.
With the Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF) and other sports bodies making a concerted effort to improve infrastructure and functioning, the future is bright for the sport.
Pakistan is certainly on course to produce great Olympians and world champions going forward in time.