Pakistan’s Waseem Reaches Boxing Finals

December 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

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File:  Mohammad Waseem, right, hits Haroon Khan.

Pakistan’s star boxer Mohammad Waseem fought his way into the finals of the Second Shaheed Benazir Bhutto International Boxing tournament at the Liaquat Gymnasium in Islamabad earlier this week. Waseem defeated India’s Madan Lal in the semifinals of the 52 kg division.

Waseem emerged as the only boxer from the host Pakistani contingent to fight for gold as seven other Pakistani fighters had to settle for bronze medals after they were beaten in the semifinals of their respective categories. Mohammad Nisar, Jamal Nasir, Nisar Khan, Ghulam Mustafa, Niamatullah, Nadir Khan and Yasir Javed all fell in the semifinals as part of a disappointing overall performance by Pakistan, who fielded a whopping total of 34 boxers in the event.

Waseem, who crushed Senevira from Sri Lanka in the quarter-final on Monday, faced even less adversity against Madan Lal in the semifinal and edged the Indian 19-12. “Thanks God, I qualified for the final,” Waseem told The News after his fight. “I did not face much difficulty and am confident to lift gold for Pakistan,” he said. Waseem is scheduled to face Benson Gicharu from Kenya in the final. Benson got a walkover against Latipovr Jasurbe from Uzbekistan in the semifinals.

By beating Madan Lal, who had outgunned England-born Haroon Khan in the quarter-final on Monday, Waseem proved that he is better than Amir Khan’s brother in the 52kg weight category. The superb show from Waseem must have convinced the authorities that they were wrong when they were compelling the Quetta-born lad to reduce his weight and play in the 49kg in the World Championship held in Baku back in the fall of this year.

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Egypt Dominates Arab Games

December 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

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Tunisia’s Nour Bo al-Eyuin hits Morocco’s Fatima Alzahraelahqr during their Kumite (sparring) Karate match at the Pan Arab Games in Cairo.

Egypt was once again dominant in the Arab Games as it accumulated a grand total of 233 medals in the 2011 edition of the games. They recently concluded in Qatari capital of Doha. The final tally for Egypt included 90 gold medals, 76 silvers, and 67 bronzes. For Egypt this extended their run to four consecutive Arab Games victories, having been the dominant force in 1999 (0man), 2004 (Algeria) and 2007 (Cairo).

Fellow North African country Tunisia finished as runners up with a total of 138 medals, including 54 gold, while Morocco came third with 113 medals, including 35 gold. The hosts, Qatar, finished fourth with a total of 110  medals, including 32 golds.

Egypt’s gold-medal wins included a 26-21 win over Qatar in the men’s Handball finals, as well as a 3-0 victory over their same Qatari hosts in the Volleyball finals. In the women’s Volleyball competition, Egypt also prevailed with a 3-1 win over Algeria in the finals.

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Texas Rangers Win the Rights to Yu Darvish

December 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

5880327.binMajor League Baseball’s Texas Rangers emerged victorious from a blind bidding process for the services of Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish. Texas’ winning bid exceeded $51 million American dollars, and that merely secured the exclusive right to negotiate a contract with Darvish. The Toronto Blue Jays were reportedly the runners-up with an unspecified bid.

Darvish is the son of an Iranian father, Farsad Darvishsefad, and a Japanese mother, Ikuyu.  The two of them met in the United States, in Florida. Farsad’s father was a travel agent in Iran, and sent Farsad to the United States in 1977 to attend high school in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, where he also raced competitively in motocross.

Farsad played soccer at Eckerd College, a liberal arts school in St. Petersburg until the U.S. embassy takeover in 1979 and the coach benched him. He later worked at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Wash., where the National Football League’s Seattle Seahawks used to train. “When I was working in the cafeteria I used to watch them carry two trays — one was a milk tray, one was a food tray, so it was very huge, a very nice experience,” Farsad said in a 2008 interview with ESPN.com. “And of course I cheered for the Seahawks.” The family subsequently moved to Japan to raise a family.

Yu, who also goes by the Iranian name Farid, began playing baseball in the second grade in Japan. And he quickly ascended up the ranks. Eventually he became the ace pitcher for the powerhouse baseball program at Tohoku High. And his success carried over to the Japanese professional ranks, with the Fighters of Nippon-Ham.

Darvish has garnered the attention of American baseball scouts since he was a teenager. And the attention grew even further with the high profile international exposure that came with pitching in the 2008 Beijing Olympics as well as in the 2009 World Baseball Classic as a member of the Japanese national team. And, ultimately he became too tantalizing for American professional baseball to resist, and the Texas Rangers paid for his rights.

But Darvish isn’t just about the money. In February of 2007 he established a humanitarian fund dedicated to the construction, installment, and maintenance of wells, well pumps, and rainwater storage facilities in developing countries called the “Yu Darvish Water Fund.” He has also announced plans to contribute to this fund by donating 100,000 yen each time he notches a regular season win. The fund is managed by the Japan Water Forum.

The 25-year-old Darvish had in fact been going through some tough times in his personal life in recent months having recently been divorced from his wife. But the prospect of a new life and a new challenge in American baseball should do well to boost his spirits.

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Al Faruq Aminu Traded to the New Orleans Hornets

December 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

al-farouq-aminu-nba-2_1152x864Former Wake Forest University forward Al-Farouq Aminu was one of three players traded to the New Orleans Hornets last week by the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for superstar point guard Chris Paul, who ironically is also a former Wake Forest Deamon Deacon. Aminu is in his second year in the league, and Coach Monty Williams feels that he still has much to work on. “We feel like he’s a guy that’s going to be in a fight with Quincy (Pondexter) for minutes,” Williams told the New Orleans Times Picayune. “We don’t give up anything around here. He has a skill set, but we don’t want guys to be in position by default.”

While shooting guard Eric Gordon, who averaged 22.9 points last season for the Clippers, was the centerpiece in the deal for the Hornets, Aminu exhibited enough potential to be a top ten pick in the 2010 NBA draft. “He has the skills and abilities that I think most small forwards would pay for,” Williams said. “He’s long and can rebound. When you’re 6 feet 9 and can do that, you are a prototype small forward.” Veteran center Chris Kaman was the third component of the trade for New Orleans.

The 21-year-old Aminu is expected to come off the bench for now, but that could very well be a temporary arrangement. “I’m trying to get better and learn the mentality down here, which is always to go hard, and that’s great,” Aminu told the Times Picayune. “The intensity in practice here is a little different with guys focused throughout the session, and it’s time for me to start myself out to where the level is. All the coaches here are pushing me to be a better player. They just want to get the best out of all their players.”

Being traded, especially as a very young player, can often be traumatic. But the silver lining would be that Aminu is returning to the part of the country in which he grew up, having been reared in Atlanta, Georgia before moving on to the state of North Carolina to attend Wake Forest. The Hornets open their regular season schedule on December 26th against the Phoenix Suns.

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Cheikh Mbodj Fighting for his Place

December 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

cincygatesx-largeUniversity of Cincinnati men’s basketball player Cheikh Mbodj is in his first year with the Bearcats. The 6-10, 245 lb junior spent his first two college years at North Texas Junior College. And he has been a big part of the Cincinnati team thus far. However, this week he was part of an ugly on-court brawl with Xavier University that earned him and a pair of teammates a six game suspension.

The 24-year-old Mbodj was born in Dakar, Senegal before ultimately coming over to the United States. At North Texas Junior College he earned 2011 National Junior College Athletic Association All-America honorable mention honors as well as being named 2011 North Texas Junior College Athletic Association co-player of the year. At NTJC he averaged a team-leading 14.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks, and his team posted a 20-11 mark. He ranked No. 24 in the NJCAA Division I statistical rankings in blocks per game, and he shot 50.8 percent from the field (152-of-299). He was ultimately listed as a three-star prospect by Rivals.com, and subsequently chose the University of Cincinnati over San Diego State. He currently majors in General Studies at Cincinnati. For the basketball team he plays the center position.

Mbodj is the son of Asta Khaly Welle and Ousmane Mbodj. He has two brothers, Yerim and Massaer, and four sisters, Ndeye, Fatou, Aminata and Fanta. Cincinnati’s next four games — against Wright State, Radford, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and Chicago State — are not expected to test the Bearcats. But the fifth and sixth games of the suspensions handed down to Mbodj and his teammates are a stiff non-conference test against Oklahoma as well as Cincinnati’s Big East opener against the University of Pittsburgh.

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Yaya Toure Kept from Representing Country

December 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

tourx_yayaEnglish Premier League football club Manchester City has been granted special dispensation to delay Yaya Toure’s departure for the Africa Cup of Nations. The Ivory Coast international had looked set to miss out on the Football Association Cup third round match against Manchester United and the first leg of the League Cup (Carling Cup) semifinal matchup with Liverpool, but he will now be able to feature in both matches.

Although glad he can take part in two important matches, Toure admits to feeling indifferent about the situation, with his loyalties split between club and country. The star midfielder told reporters, “Our country needs people like myself and Didier Drogba because there is a war and it’s important we do what we can for our people, but this is also a crucial time of the season. There are two crucial months coming up and now I am going to miss one of them. The team, the club and the manager need me, but I will have to go away and play in a different competition. It’s difficult as I am very focused for City and we need all the players. I have to go because my country is going through some difficult things, but I am a little bit guilty and confused about it. My loyalties are divided and I do feel a little bit sad. But City will cope.”

The tournament, hosted in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, begins on January 21st, with Ivory Coast’s first match taking place in Malabo against Sudan on January 22nd. Meanwhile, Manchester City sit atop the English Premier League with 38 points, two points ahead of cross-town rival Manchester United.

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Indo-Pak Express Break Up

December 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

Pakistan’s Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi and India’s Rohan Bopanna announced this week that they have dissolved their successful men’s tennis doubles partnership, which was hailed as a symbol of friendship between the rival nations. Bopanna told the Indian Express newspaper that he will team up with veteran compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi in 2012, while Qureshi will next partner Dutchman Jean-Julien Roger at the Australian Open in January.

“As the season has ended now, I can confirm that I am playing with Mahesh in 2012,” Bopanna said, declining to elaborate on the reason for parting ways with Qureshi after four years. “Who I want to play with is my decision… I did have a successful year with Aisam but now I am starting a new year with Mahesh, and it’s as simple as that.”

Bopanna and Qureshi, who joined hands in an unlikely partnership in 2007, shot to fame when they reached the US Open doubles final last year and are currently ranked ninth in the world. The duo actively promoted better India-Pakistan ties and even offered to play tennis over the land border dividing the two countries, which have a history of warfare and political tension.
Bopanna’s announcement also confirmed media speculation that India’s best-known men’s doubles combination of Bhupathi and Leander Paes, who won three Grand Slam titles, would not play together on the circuit.

Bopanna was non-committal on whether the decision to change partners was due to the London 2012 Olympics. “As of now Mahesh and I have decided to start the year together,” he said. “The Olympics have a lot of other technicalities like form and rankings, and we will see how it goes.”

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