Afghanistan To Host First Professional Boxing Match

Afghanistan is to host its first professional men's boxing match on Tuesday, amid tight security in the capital Kabul.

The 12-round bout is for the vacant World Boxing Organisation Intercontinental middleweight belt.

German-born Afghan boxer Hamid Rahimi will fight Tanzanian Said Mbelwa.

Millions of Afghans are expected to watch the match, which will be broadcast live. The Taliban banned boxing towards the end of their rule.

Ghana News Headlines

For latest news in Ghana, visit Graphic Online news headlines page Ghana news page

Organisers have dubbed the match a "Fight 4 Peace" and say it is being hosted to make a statement of freedom to take part in sport in a country blighted by war and militancy for decades.

Correspondents say the fight is likely to be a sell-out and has attracted interest from fans all over the country.

'Overwhelming' excitement

Mbelwa, 23, fights in the super-middleweight division and has a record of 31 fights with 19 wins, eight losses and four draws.

Rahimi is six years older than his opponent and has won 20 of his 21 fights. He has been followed by hundreds of fans to each interview and public appearance he has made in the week leading up to this match.

Speaking earlier this week, he said that only sport can bring deeply divided societies together and that he hoped the "Fight 4 Peace" would do just that in Afghanistan.

"The kids don't take guns, they come the sports way, and I believe in sports, I am a sportsman and I believe sport has the power and the magic to bring all people and all regions together. I hope it will bring peace to my hometown," he said.

"The whole country is so excited and looking forward to the 'Fight 4 Peace.' It's simply overwhelming."

Mbelwa said that he understood that the occasion was "a very special event for Afghanistan and sent a very important message for the whole world".

"But once this bell rings it will be a boxing fight like any other. And I can promise you that I will be victorious. I am very well prepared and I am sure that I will knock out Rahimi in the fourth round," he said.