Notwithstanding its political disputes with India, Bangladesh has sought inspiration from its neighbour's growing boxing stature and even takes pride in the iconic status of M.C. Mary Kom.
Even though Bangladesh has produced some male international boxers over the decades, it took time to promote female boxing. In the past few years, Bangladesh has benefitted by sending its boxers to train at state-of-the-art training facilities in India.
“Since India is our neighbour and doing well in boxing, it has a big influence on us. Our boxers come and get good training at [the National Boxing Academy] Rohtak and [National Institute of Sports] Patiala,” said Bangladesh chief coach Syed Mohiuddin Ahmed, who accompanied three boxers to the Women's World Boxing Championships in New Delhi where his country made its debut.
Ahmed's eyes lit up at the mention of Mary Kom. “Mary Kom is a five-time world champion and it is a matter of pride for us as well. After all, a South Asian woman is a multiple world champion.”
For 12-time national champion Ahmed, India holds several happy memories, including his own participation as an athlete in the 1982 Asian Games and his ward Shamima Akhtar's bronze medal-winning performance at the Guwahati South Asian Games in 2016.
Ahmed, who has been closely following the progress of boxing in his country, hopes women's boxing grows in Bangladesh. He said the scenario is more conducive now for women to take up boxing in Bangladesh.
“Our country is now a liberal one. We have started women's boxing at the direction of our Prime Minister. The society is not conservative like before. There are no social hurdles for girls to take up boxing and they are getting jobs because of the sport,” said Ahmed.
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