International Boxing Association (IBA) president Umar Kremlev met with Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas last week to discuss plans to usher in a new era of Palestinian boxing.
Discussions focused on the development of boxing in Palestine and the potential for future events in the occupied state.
‘It is always a pleasure to meet President Abbas and discuss with him the development of our sport,” Kremlev, who previously visited Palestine in August to meet with the country’s leading sports authorities, said. “I am sure that with such an approach and love for boxing, Palestine will show good results at IBA competitions soon.”
The two men also deliberated plans for the construction of Palestine’s first-ever boxing centre in Al Ram. A total of 2,600 square metres of land has been designated for the venue, which will serve as an incubator for athletes to train and prepare for international events.
The venue is set to be officially opened in 2024, which happens to be the same year that Palestine will host the Asian Boxing Championships.
‘I am thankful to the government of Palestine, NOC President, National Federation, all people of the country to give an opportunity for boxers to compete, Kremlev said after taking part in a ceremony where the foundation stone was laid for the boxing center. “This center will become an international boxing academy, where competitions and training for athletes as well as education of coaches and referees and judges will take place. I want kids of Palestine to train free of charge and develop themselves as boxers. We will invest in the construction of this academy, and the whole boxing family will be happy to proudly make it happen.”
The IBA has also sponsored nine countries requiring assistance to compete at the organization’s Men’s and Women’s Youth World Boxing Championships, including the Palestinian national team, which only has two athletes and no female competitors. According to head coach Atta Rimawi, the lack of resources afforded to Palestinian boxers is largely due to the country’s ongoing occupation imposed by Israel.
‘We have a war in our country, which also greatly impedes us, as no budget is allocated for the development of boxing,” Rimawi said. “We asked the IBA for support, so we could come to this World Championships. And we are very grateful that we got it.”
Israel’s 55-year occupation of Palestine has long been condemned by international human rights organizations. Earlier this year, Amnesty International published a new investigation which labeled the Israeli government’s “system of oppression and domination against Palestinians” as apartheid. The UN Special Rapporteur’s report in March 2022 echoed those findings, adding that “more than three million Palestinians living under an oppressive rule of institutional discrimination and without a path to a genuine Palestinian that the world has long promised, is their right”
Despite the ongoing occupation, boxing continues to grow in popularity throughout Palestine, especially among women. In November 2020, young Palestinian girls competed in a female boxing tournament in the besieged Gaza Strip. The boxers were as young as seven years old and was attended by dozens of spectators. There is also a women’s boxing program in Gaza, which had as many as 45 boxers as of June 2021.
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