Boxing: ABA champion Ashfaq still dreaming of Olympic gold

Qais Ashfaq.
Qais Ashfaq.
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After missing out on representing Great Britain’s boxing team in London 2012, Leeds boxing ace Qais Ashfaq remains adamant that a second attempt will allow him to grab an Olympic gold medal.

Before preparing for the Olympic Games, the young bantamweight is hoping to claim success at this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

The 2014 Amateur Boxing Association (ABA) winner at 56kg describes himself as a hard worker in training sessions from the time he was actually learning the basics of boxing.

On his way to the ABA title, Ashfaq’s progress involved getting past Lee Mitchell in the quarter-final and Reece Mould of Doncaster in the semis before winning the final against Lucien Reid.

Reflecting on his ABA success, Ashfaq said: “I felt good during the tournament and due to strong preparation I remained composed resulting in me achieving great results.”

Ashfaq believes Amir Khan’s success in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games played a pivotal role in the increasing number of British Asian boxers.

He said: “In sha Allah (God willing) I will be aiming to become Olympic champion at Rio 2016.

“As long as I keep performing leading up to the event, I am confident my hard work will pay off.

“Amir’s Olympic achievement was influential in interesting more young Asians in boxing, the main reason why so many have come through in recent years.”

Ashfaq added: “He was the only British Pakistani on the British Boxing team as I am now. It’s nice to be compared to sportsmen like Amir, but I’m my own man.”

The young prodigy has a role model with the highest of statuses in the boxing world.

Ashfaq said: “Muhammad Ali because of his achievements not only in the ring but in life.

“Work in the gym has built my confidence and I feel like I can achieve something big in the sport.” He believes although dedication and difficult days in the gym are essential for all sportsmen like himself, family support is as important.

He said: “My family have always supported me and it’s crucial for success. My mum was a bit iffy at first as mothers are, and to this day she can’t watch me fight, but is 100 per cent behind me.”

Ashfaq’s best fight up to date was against Frenchman Elias Friha last year.

“He was a big southpaw boxer but I didn’t let that faze me,” said Ashfaq.

“I kept composed and dominated him. That was my complete performance, the reason why it is my favourite bout.”

After that he moved onto contests achieving gold-standards performances in Macedonia and Finland.

The young boxer is in good form and heads into a crucial year in his boxing career, with the Chemistry Cup in Berlin first and then the Commonwealth Games this summer which should go a long way towards showing everyone his true qualities.