The First Amateur Boxer in Sana’a: “We did not find enough support, so we left training.” [Archives:1999/04/Sports]

January 25 1999

There are a lot of games which are abandoned by practitioners for many reasons. The most important factor is the overwhelming attention paid to football which consumes 80% of the budget of the Ministry of Youth & Sport. In spite of the previous reason, we clearly see weak standards of football performance during International contests. There are other reasons for the low standard of performance, among which were the insufficient compensation to finance single game-activities and insufficient care for different heroic sports of men or women. 
This might lead the athlete to think of leaving training and searching for a job to provide for himself a sufficient living. Sport as everybody says does not feed anybody in his life! Mr. Ayman Abdul-Elah Al-Jurmuzi is the first amateur boxer in Sana’a Governorate. In spite of the difficulties he faced during his training because of his young age, insufficient training potential, and closed auditoriums, he won several local boxing championship contests. He continued training for years until afflicted with despair along with other athletes because of not being given any care or support. 
All athletes stopped training to impress the Ministry of Youth and Sport, and Yemen Boxing Federation with their demands, and to provide sufficient support for continued training. Boxing disappeared from clubs in Sana’a although there is a special federation for it. Yemen Times met and talked to Ayman and filed the following:
Q. When did you start training and in which club?
A. I started training in 1987 when I was six years old. My older brother boxed with me at home. I joined the Ahli Club when I was seven years old. The game was new (in Yemen) at that time, where the club provided us with commercial boxing gloves. The gloves were illegal for training and crammed with cotton as we were without head or teeth protection. We were missing a boxing ring, which is an essential part of training. In spite of the previous reasons our wishes were strong to promote boxing in Yemen and to encourage the Ministry of Youth & Sport to form a boxing federation to take care of boxing activities. Later, athletes increased day by day and Sana’a-Wahdah Club practiced the game, and brought in a Syrian referee while ours was a Yemeni.
Q. When was the Yemen Boxing Federation formed to develop the game?
A. The Yemen Boxing Federation was formed in 1990, directly after the Yemen Unity. There was a federation formed in Aden and recognized internationally, which helped in establishing the General Federation. The recent General Federation had to take care of the game and spread it among the levels of the governorates. The game, at that time, was only practiced in Sana’a , the capital city, and Aden Governorate. The Federation members were very ambitious to ameliorate the art of boxing in Yemen, but they collided with the carelessness of the Ministry of Youth and Sport for such games. The ministry was careless about single games similar to boxing such as swimming, wrestling, Karate, Kung-Fu, Judo, TaikwonduÉetc. because, the ministry did not provide enough compensation to finance the lowest limit of training demands. Hence, the recent federation members submitted their group resignations to protest against the improvisation of their demands. We, the athletes, remained hanging in mid-air without a federation. Although, the ministry does not know about us, we exercised great patience while looking for a better hope and a good future for the game. We virtually insisted on training, and another new federation abbreviated by the YBF was formed in 1993. In spite of the previous progressive step, the conditions remained as they were, unchanged, except for some compensation to finance some championships and professional training supervised by new federation members.
Q. How were the conditions of training with the carelessness of Ministry of Youth and Sport?
A. We were training with strong wishes and participated in several championships organized by the YBF as a hope to participate in Arab Federation levels. It seems to me that any care for a game would need an intermediary to provide sufficient support for the contests. This is what happened to football, which exhausts the great part of the budget of Ministry of Youth and Sports. The athletes usually leave one by one because of the high living costs, conditions, and to search for better jobs, although many of them are of excellent standard, experienced, and might possibly be champions if the Ministry of Youth and Sport took care of them.
Q. Why don’t the Ministry of Youth and Sport recognize such sport activities?
A. I visited all specialized administrations in the Ministry of Youth and Sport and met the ex-minister himself, Dr. Mohammed Al-Kabab and later the new minister Dr. Mohammed Raweh. I heard a lot of vivid promises, which have not been applied until now in all fields of sports. The specialized administrations should take care about all sports and games, but unfortunately I have found them sipping tea instead and discussing inferior matters to sports and far away from athletics. They know nothing about Sport federations, which still miss such sports as parachuting, chivalry, and volleyball enlisted with the Yemen Boxing Federation. I think that the employees in the Ministry of Youth and Sport are more than the athletes in Sana’a clubs. Instead, sport directors ought to follow the sport activities to realize the standards they have reached. You always see them sitting in their offices waiting for reports from various sport federations implementing continuous sport activities in better situations. After reading reports the officers sign the compensation to finance various sport activities. If any officer makes periodical visits to all clubs his thought about the matter will be obviously changed, and the situation will be ameliorated in all sport activities.
Q: Does the youth fund support sports activities?
A: Well, we have heard about this youth fund but we have not experienced any funding by them. Sports projects are a good material for the media, but in reality it’s an illusion. For example, millions of riyals are spent on planting stadiums with grass but no maintenance funding was allocated. As a result stadiums are as dry as ever, and the money is gone with the wind.
Q: Do you still work out? And how do you see the future of sports in Yemen?
A: I stopped working out last year after facing a lot of disappointments and after I was convinced that there is no credibility in developing sports in Yemen. You see a Sportsman reaches an age where he needs a job and an income which he will not find in sports, at least here in Yemen, that’s why many people leave sports at a young age after facing life’s endless demands.
As far as the future of sports in Yemen is concerned, I see no hope if it is under the Ministry of Youth and Sports. I advise sports clubs to try and attract businessmen and private companies to finance them. Some clubs had already taken the initiative such as Ahli Sanaa, Al-Wahda and Shabb Sanaa.
Q: What do you think of Prince Naseem? And did you meet him when he visited Yemen?
A: Naseem is an International boxer with a unique style. Unfortunately he has not contributed to boxing in Yemen. He promised to support the game
and build a training center in his name in Sanaa, but the promise was not kept . Yes, I met him on his first visit to Yemen in 1993 at Al-Ahli club in Sanaa, where we exercised together. On his last visit he did not call on the club which had received him first in Yemen, before he was known.