British-born Bangladeshi boxer Al Safwan Uddin reached the final of the men's 60kg weight category in the 29th National Senior Men's Boxing Championship after a hard-fought win against Faisal Molla at Muhammad Ali Boxing Stadium in Dhaka Friday evening.
In the day's other match, youngster Robin Mia conceded a heart-breaking and controversial defeat against Khorshed Alam of Bangladesh Army in one of the most entertaining fights of the tournament, in the semi-final of the men's 56kg weight category event.
Safwan didn't have it too easy, like the first day of the competition, but he seemed alert at the beginning as the opening round ended in a close contest. The second round proved to be the difference where Safwan took advantage of an imbalanced Faisal by knocking him down. Bangladesh Army's Faisal, who finished runner-up in the same event in the tournament's last edition in December, 2015, got on his feet within 10 seconds but Safwan looked more confident afterwards.
"When I knocked him down, the opponent automatically get one point deducted. It was a big boost," said a happy Safwan after the game. He continued, "I was confident. I know how to get the points and I know how to make the judges see what they like. It's simple boxing. As long as you are at the right point and place, you get the points."
The 19 years-old boxer praised the spirit of Faisal when asked about the difference between the opponents he used to face in London and here in Bangladesh. "The players there are more technical, but here, they have the spirit. Bangladesh's spirit is very good spirit, because in the UK, once you knock down your opponent, the fight usually stops. But when I knocked him (Faisal) down he got on his feet. That's what a man of spirit does."
When asked if he'd seen any local boxer with good technique, he mentioned two names, one of them being Robin, who took to the ring just before Safwan's game.
Robin and Safwan are both of the same age. Robin has already made a mark as one of the most promising boxers of the country. He became champion in the 56kg weight category in the last edition, participated in the last South Asian Games and was nominated for next month's Commonwealth Games in Australia.
But the young boxer, representing Bangladesh Ansar, had a terrible day after losing the controversial semi-final against Khorshed. Robin was still confident of winning the fight but after the referee raised Khorshed's hand as winner, the Bangladesh Ansar coach and the supporters furiously protested the result. Robin's coach Shafiul Azam blamed the judges, calling them “biased”. The judges were also accused of altering the result intentionally against Robin. Five judges are required to run every boxing game but Bangladesh currently has rarely any internationally-qualified boxing judge.
Mohammad Jahir Chowdhury, the treasurer of Bangladesh Amateur Boxing Federation, said after Robin's defeat, "It was a game like 19-20 or 28-30 and both fought well. It was difficult for the judges to choose the winner on such an occasion." Meanwhile, Robin admitted that the “undeserving” defeat would demoralise his confidence, ahead of next month's Commonwealth Games.