Afghan boxer wins 1st pro fight in war-torn nation

Afghan boxer Hamid Rahimi won the first professional bout in his

war-torn country Tuesday by stopping Said Mbelwa of Tanzania in the

seventh round.

Rahimi, who is based in Germany, said his aim in organizing

”Afghanistan Fight 4 Peace” was to bring the people of his

country together after decades of warfare.

Several hundred spectators watched the bout live in a large hall

in the capital, cheering wildly when Rahimi won the vacant WBO

intercontinental middleweight title. Mbelwa was unable to continue

because of a shoulder injury.

Mbelwa showboated in the early rounds, but retreated to his

corner holding his shoulder in the seventh after Rahimi delivered

four fierce rights in quick succession.

Rahimi’s supporters carried a banner reading ”We Want Peace”

during the match. Spectators crowded into the ring after the match

to congratulate both fighters.

”I am very happy because this victory belongs to all Afghans,”

Rahimi said.

The boxer has lived in Germany since childhood when his parents

moved there in 1992. He has won 22 of his 23 pro fights.

Organizers said the two men made history by staging the first

professional match in Afghanistan. But amateur boxing is popular in

Afghanistan and the nation’s first Olympic boxer, flyweight Ajmal

Faisal, took part in the London Games this year.

The fight was the latest of several sporting events which

authorities hope will help unite the nation.

Earlier this month, Afghanistan’s new soccer league held its

first national championship at Kabul’s renovated Ghazi stadium.

In September, the country’s cricket team participated in the

World Twenty20 tournament in Sri Lanka, where they were eliminated

after losing to India and England.