Afghan boxer Hamid Rahimi wins Kabul's first pro match

German-born Afghan boxer Hamid Rahimi (left) and Tanzanian Said Mbelwa in the ring Hamid Rahimi won the fight after seven rounds

Related Stories

Millions of Afghans have watched a German-born Afghan win the country's first professional men's boxing match in the capital Kabul.

Hamid Rahimi beat Tanzanian Said Mbelwa for the World Boxing Organisation Intercontinental middleweight belt.

The match, which would have been banned under Taliban rule, took place amid tight security in the capital.

After the fight, Mr Rahimi described the win as a fresh beginning for the country.

"Today it's a start," he said.

"This belt is not mine, this belt is Afghanistan's, it's yours. I love you."

The match was broadcast live, with millions of Afghans across the country reportedly tuning in to watch.

At the fight

More than 1,000 people, of all ages and all ethnic groups, watched the match. There were politicians, including the country's intelligence chief, and diplomats and politicians too.

There were chaotic scenes when several hundred fans tried to storm the gate and stones were thrown at the special force units but the police managed to defuse the tension.

Security was tight ahead of the fight. X-ray machines checked people as they entered and, inside, security officers were armed with heavy machine guns.

Millions watched on live television as, in the seventh round, the Tanzanian abandoned the fight.

When Rahimi won, riot police encircled the ring but even some of the security officials were unable to contain their emotion, jumping into the ring to celebrate.

Prominent Afghan figures, including MPs and deputy ministers, watched the fight live at the venue.

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

The Taliban banned boxing towards the end of their rule.

'Important message'

Tickets for the fight sold out, attracting interest from fans all over the country. One man told the BBC that he had risked a Taliban attack to make the journey from Logar province with his nine-year-old son.

Sabrina Saqib, a female former MP and professional volleyball player, said Afghanistan was eager for a sign of normal life.

''The world always sees Afghanistan through the window of war. So this game changes that. Although this was a fight, this was a fight for peace. [...] This is a huge achievement. Afghanistan has a young and talented generation who seek peace and stability," she told the BBC.

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.

Ahead of the fight, 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 vowed to fight as hard as any other match once in the ring.

In the event, he was forced to admit defeat in the seventh round after retreating to his corner with a shoulder injury.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Asia stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.