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Wednesday, 21 November 2012

First Afghan boxer 'fights for peace'

In October 2012 the capital of Afghanistan saw its first ever professional boxing match.

The fight that would have been banned under Taliban rule was dubbed the "fight for peace".

In Kabul Hamid Rahimi of Afghanistan took on Said Mbelwa of Tanzania for the "World Boxing Organisation Intercontinental Middleweight belt."

Watched in the stadium by prominent Afghan figures, including politicians, as well as thousands of Afghan citizens from different ethnic groups, Rahimi won the fight in the seventh round.

Millions of Afghans also watched the bout on TV. In a country that has been at war for over 30 years, Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, congratulated Rahimi along with "the Afghan people" for the win.

Though born Kabul, 29-year-old Hamid Rahimi has lived in Germany since he was nine.

*euronews:* Hamid Rahimi, Welcome to euronews.
Recently you took part in a boxing match that you dubbed the "Fight for Peace." In a country that has been at war for 30 to 40 years, could this fight really change anything?

*Hamid Rahimi:* "Considerably, I strongly believe in the project's impact, it took two years of hard work to make it happen, much has been invested in it, for it to succeed, it's something that I really care about.

"I've been in Germany for 20-years, I didn't come here just for German citizenship, I came here because there's peace in this country, my dream for Afghanistan is to take back and establish peace in my homeland.

"I've already felt war, I've lived through it, war is a hopeless misery, war does nothing for peace and tranquillity. War has taken the lives of many people in Afghanistan and I believe there are more victims of war in Afghanistan than anywhere else in the world."

*euronews:* You said that one of the objectives of the fight was to support women's rights, I also saw on YouTube that you train female boxers in Afghanistan. Do you not feel you're moving too fast for Afghan society considering that, under Taliban rule, women were not even allowed to work or go out?

*Hamid Rahimi:* "Growing up in Germany, with my sister and mother, I was always the protector "like a lion" I learned so much from them, if they had not supported me I could never have been so successful, I think we should be close to our sisters and mothers, they must go to school, they must be able to work shoulder to shoulder next to men, if we want our homeland, Afghanistan, to advance and progress, this is very important for me."

*euronews:* "Many people in Afghanistan today compare you to Muhammad Ali, they say that he fought to help black people and you fight for the Afghan people, Do you think that one day you could achieve what Muhammad Ali did?"

*Hamid Rahimi:* "Well, Ali is a Legend, he helped the African people, black people, a lot. He is my idol, my hero, but me, I'm Hamid and Ali is Ali.

"I try to do everything for my country, I think it's possible to establish peace but there has to be the desire, the will to do it, if not.. then even if there are thousands of military forces there, they will not be able to create peace.

"Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, the British and even the Russians have come before, and right now there are soldiers from over 52 countries in Afghanistan but what have they done? the Afghan people are more miserable than ever.

"I know Kabul very well and the inhabitants of this city. The situation has deteriorated compared to the time of the Taliban, there were not as many poor children in the streets as we see today .

"After the foreigners came, it's true that some things have changed for the better; schools have been built, but I think with all the money they spent, they could do better. Today, there are a small number of Afghans who have became billionaires and then the rest of the people are very poor, look, there are many children from ordinary families that do not go to school, they become beggars instead, working 24/7, do you call that an improvement? Do you call this help? These children don't even have a place to sleep, they take drugs, and you can see they have broken teeth, these are the children who go on to become suicide bombers."

*euronews:* "So you think we should change the culture and ideologies of people?"


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