Iraq's Boxing Team Begins Training for 2004 Olympics
Hilla, Babil Province, Iraq. The Iraqi Boxing Team arrived in Hilla on
Friday, November 7, 2003, to begin training to qualify for the 2004 Olympics in
Athens, Greece. Under the former regime, the Iraqi Boxing Team fought out of
fear…now they will fight for love of the sport.
Iraqi Boxing Team includes 22 fighters and 4 Iraqi coaches. The boxers are
divided into eleven weight divisions. The Iraqi Boxing Federation chose the
best fighters and coaches from all over Iraq. The team will train with former
American fighter, Termite Watkins, who also qualified for the 1976 Olympics.
When asked about their chances, Termite, a member of the Coalition Provisional
What they need most is someone who believes in them. I believe in them,
and this country believes in them. I'm chasing a dream, they're chasing a
dream, and this country is chasing a dream.
Iraqi Boxing Team adopted "Iraq is Back" as its motivational theme that will
carry them from hard work and perseverance to the 2004 Olympics. Though the
team has a short time to prepare for the qualifiers, they remain
enthusiastically determined to represent a free Iraq in the next Olympics.
Therkum Niye, one of the boxers, explained:
The most important thing is to raise the Iraqi flag and put the name of Iraq
on the board.
Iraqi Boxing Team will have their first opportunity to qualify for the 2004
Olympics when they travel to Manila in January. Subsequent qualifying matches
will be held during March in China and during April in Pakistan.
Coalition Provisional Authority is providing equipment and other resources for
the boxing team. Local Iraqi women will assist as well. The Fatima Al-Zahra
Center for Women's Rights signed its very first catering contract – providing
healthy food for the boxers daily.
Iraqis can take pride in their boxing team. The Iraqi Boxing Team represents a
people proud of their national identity and a country returning to normal as it
moves forward toward democracy and a sovereign government.