Kabul, Afghanistan • A few yellow lamps light up the cavernous, sparsely furnished room in Kabul Stadium where Afghanistan’s young female boxers train, hoping to become good enough to compete in the 2016 Olympics.
The women, some as young as 18, don’t have much more than determination to fuel their drive.
Previously, non-governmental organizations supported them. At one time, there were 25 young women on the team who received a salary the equivalent of $100 per month and transportation to and from training at the stadium.
But aid organizations have dropped out. Afghanistan’s National Olympic Committee took over, but it has little money for the women. The budget was slashed and the women lost their salaries. Now their numbers are down to a dozen. They get a place to train, their boxing gloves and, occasionally, transportation costs.
Still, the sportswomen share a camaraderie, laughing and teasing each other until the serious business of training begins.
Their trainer pairs them off and in turn they get into the rings. The trainer runs them through their paces, watches as they spar, corrects their technique, tells them when to jab, how to protect themselves, when to power through with a left and then a right.
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