Yemeni Boxing Champion Nassr Awad to YT “Naseem joyful in heaven, while we suffer hell” [Archives:2000/18/Sports]

May 1 2000

Several Yemeni sportsmen are suffering from the insufficient care and attention in their homeland Yemen. Despite the fact that some of them are in fact quite talented and have participated in several important sport tournaments in Yemen and abroad, they yet are faced with neglect and carelessness. When a Yemeni becomes a champion in a certain tournament, he enjoys the moment of glory and receives attention and support from his club and from the authorities. However, his happiness does not usually last long, and soon after he was awarded, he is faced with the same old ignorance and neglect once again.
Awad is a promising talented sportsman who has obtained several local championships in swimming, running, and boxing. However knows him, says that he is energetic, full of energy, and as a person, so gentle and kind. He like the rest, also suffers from the same treatment and disregard. This despite the fact that he may be of great potential if trained and supported in regional and international championship. However, it seems to be no more than a dream for him so far.
Yemen Times had the pleasure to interview Nassr in Sanaa after coming from Aden. He has come to participate in preparations for the 10th unity anniversary sports festivities. Here are some excerpts from the interview:

Q: How did you start your sports career?
A: I started being involved in sports in 1982, after which I won the 1986 marathon championship. Every year from 1986 to 1989 I won the butterfly swimming championship. As for boxing, I starting working on it in 1987 and continue until today. I played 14 international matches and won the golden medal in 1988 in the decisive match against a well-known Russian boxer with a K.O. in the second round. I have given sports all my time and dedication.

Q: Do you currently train, and in which team?
A: I currently train Shamsan Club, which I started training in 1994. I used to train Al-Jala club in 1991 and Al-Jumhuriya Club in 1993. My current club has won 11 championship for Aden governorate, and the Republic’s Championship. My club has proudly succeeded in attaining a constantly high standard profile. I myself am the boxing champion despite the suffering and economic circumstances I go through.

Q: Have you met Prince Naseem Hamed during his visit to Yemen. If yes, what were your impressions?
A: Prince Naseem is a good boxer, and I met him in Sanaa once. However, he was lucky to have been living in the U.K. in which he received all the care, attention, and support he needed to promote his talents and make him a world champion. However, we here in Yemen are in another world. No one knows about our talents and potentials. Our administrators simply do not give the possibility of us being world champions, and take us for granted all the time. Boxing is among the sports activities given least attention. Naseem and his father promised to support Yemeni boxers and their ambitions during their visit in 1993. However, so far we received nothing from them, even though he came 3 times after that. I guess he forgot about us after he became a world champion. Why hasn’t he at least made some effort to visit the boxing training centers? I remember the match we had against each other in Aden in 1993. It was quite a pleasant time. However, it is a pity that we have not received his long-awaited support, which several boxers like me were waiting for. If Naseem ever has the time to hear me, I would tell him ” please don’t forget about us and about your promise!” All I can say is that Naseem is currently enjoying himself with all the attention and support he can get, while we in Yemen are suffering neglect and carelessness all the time. In other words, he is joyful in heaven, while we are suffering hell.”
Q: Do you have any sports activities that you are involved in other than boxing?
A: I also work on preparing youth festivities in schools and universities. I participated in organizing the presidential elections` festival and was able to put together a boxing program in Aden University’s curriculum. I also participated in various activities in several colleges. Member of Parliament Ms. Oras Naji helped me in delivering a proposal to the Vice President, Abdo Rabbo Mansour . However, days after delivering my letter to his office manager, I discovered that it did not reach him. I proposed to launch various sports activities on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Unity, in which there would be midget wrestling and other sports tournaments. All I wish is that my letter be received and accepted by the Vice President, which I hope than would support me financially to begin working on the preparations for the festival on this national occasion.

Q: Do you consider yourself an amateur or professional boxer?
A: I believe that despite the many years I spent in boxing, I am still an amateur, simply because the system in Yemen does not support professionalism in sports. This because amateur boxers represent their countries in international and Olympic tournaments, while professional boxers represent themselves for commercial gain. These boxers are forbidden of participating in international and Olympic tournaments. Even though, I wish that the government would open the way for professionalism in sports, otherwise amateur boxers like me would starve to death. Such action is necessary to identify talented sportsmen and help them help themselves. We need to follow suit with other countries and enable young boxers to prove themselves and earn money which will eventually lead to prosperity to their clubs through sponsorship of commercial companies, etc.

Q: Do you have any international, Arab, or regional tournaments in your agenda?
A: I have not participated in any international tournament since 1990. Today, the level of boxing in Yemen has become extremely weak that it can barely compete with other countries. Even though the Yemeni Boxing Federation is seeking to participate in one of the Arab tournaments, either in Algeria or Egypt, I believe the weakness and desperation of Yemeni boxers may lead to a complete tragedy and humiliation when playing with well-trained and supported Arab boxers. I believe that we will not stand a chance in competing with highly qualified sportsmen from the world with appropriate environments, and with care and support they need to lead to great achievements.

Q: What are your requests from the officials in charge of sports n Yemen?
A: I do not have personal requests. However, I demand that the Minister of Youth and Sports get out of his office and go investigate the terrible circumstances and poor conditions of sports clubs and sports in general. That is much better than depending on the periodical reports he receives from his staff as they do not necessarily reflect the true dimensions of misery we as sportsmen are going through.
Believe me, Yemeni sportsmen cannot compete or excel unless given the appropriate support and attention. The ones in charge should at least provide the minimum amount of support to us in order to even think of winning a championship, and then winning it again, and again. However, with the present conditions, even if we win once, we will find ourselves after a few cheers left alone without any attention to decay as the years go by. This in itself not only destroys our ambitions and dreams, but it also prevents us from making ends meet in not being able to withstand the economic hardships that we and our children go through. I do hope my message in this interview would reach its target, unlike my abandoned letter I sent to the Vice President.