Qais Ashfaq: Boxing For Gold In 2016
Luqman Liaqat, Features Writer
After missing out on representing Great Britain's boxing team at Bantamweight in London 2012, Leeds boxing ace Qais Ashfaq remains adamant that a second attempt will allow him to grab the honourable prize of an Olympic Gold medal. "In sha Allah (God willing) I will be aiming to become Olympic champion at Rio 2016." Before qualification heats up for the Olympic Games, the youngster will be hoping to make a major impact at this summer's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. "As long as I keep performing leading up to the event, I am confident my hard work will pay off."
From a young age Ashfaq has been compared to Bolton's boxing superstar Amir Khan due to the speed and agility both have in their repertoire. "It's an honour to be compared to a boxer such as Amir Khan who has excelled in his sport." Like Ashfaq, Khan also entered his remarkable journey through the British Boxing set up before claiming a silver medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.
The Olympic hopeful believes Khan's success played a pivotal role in the increasing number of British Asian boxers. "Amir's Olympic achievement was influential in interesting more young Asians in boxing, the main reason why so many have come through in recent years." The rising star is one of the strongest from the present crop of British Asian boxers, a trend that was set some years before Khan by the likes of Reading's Jawaid Khaliq, the first British Asian to win a world title. Multiple title-winners Adnan Amar and Adil Anwar have also tasted glory.
Ashfaq has followed in the footsteps of Khan at the early stages of his career but he believes an identity of his own is crucial for survival in the ring. "He was the only British Pakistani on the British Boxing team, as I am now. It's nice to be compared to sportsmen like Amir, but I've always seen it as I am my own man." When reflecting on the boxing relationship he has with Khan, the Leeds man said: "I know him as a friend, too, and has always been supportive, also he's offered to help me with my boxing skills."
The 20-year-old's interest in the sport began at the age of 8 "I started boxing very early. My cousin Adnan Khan used to box. I watched him coming through so since then I have always been intrigued by the sport." Once Ashfaq stepped in a boxing gym, playing football and cricket were a thing of the past. "Boxing kind of naturally became my number 1 sport." The young prodigy has a role model with the highest of statuses in the boxing world. "Muhammad Ali because of his achievements not only in the ring but in life."
He describes himself as a hard worker in training sessions from the time he was actually learning the basics of Boxing. Since the early success of winning his first national title at 12, Ashfaq never looked back and is now hoping to reach heights in his career. "Work in the gym has built my confidence and I feel like I can achieve something big in the sport." Ashfaq believes although dedication and difficult days in the gym are essential for all sportsmen like himself, family support is as important. "My family have always supported me, my mum was a bit iffy at first as mothers are and she to this day can't watch me fight, but is 100% behind me."
Controlling nerves proves tricky for all boxers before starting a fight and this upcoming British Asian boxer is no exception either. "In my first fight I was very nervous, anxious more than anything. I remember thinking, what have I got myself into here. But, thankfully, I boxed well and won easily." Ashfaq's best fight up to date was against Frenchman Elias Friha last year. "He was a big southpaw boxer but I didn't let that faze me, I kept composed and dominated him. That was my complete performance, the reason why it is my favourite bout." After that he moved onto contests achieving gold-standards performances in Macedonia and Finland.
The young boxer is in good form and heads into a crucial year in his boxing career. The Amateur Boxing Championships first and then the Commonwealth Games this summer should go a long way towards showing everyone his true qualities.
Qais Ashfaq: Boxing For Gold In 2016, 9th April 2014, 11:17 AM