Following the great success of the first Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Memorial Tournament, the second edition moved from Karachi to Pakistan's capital city, Islamabad, where this year the event will begin on December 20.
Last time around, China claimed four first place finsihes whilst a strong Syria and a tough Thailand both acquired two gold medals. Hosts Pakistan along with Cameroon and Mongolia all secured one gold each back in January 2010.
Amongst the prestigious winners of this competition are Cameroon's Joseph Mulema who also claimed gold at the All African Games and China's Chang Yong who secured the Asian Championships title this year. The first edition of the event became famous after some Cameroonian and Central African fighters embraced and converted to Islam while staying in Karachi.
The event has since been scheduled as the last international competition of 2011 and the venue for the tournament will be the Liaquat Gymnasium Sports Complex in Islamabad where free entry will be provided for all boxing fans and spectators.
President of the Pakistani Boxing Federation Mr. Doda Khan Bhutto disclosed that 23 countries had already confirmed their participation for the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Memorial Tournament with the final number expected to be at more than 25.
Since the terrorist attack against the Sri Lankan cricket team back in 2008, the government has ensured that state level security is provided for all participants of international sport events in Pakistan. The organisers are expecting the country's image to be further enhanced after the successful completion of the tournament and that the nation's relationship with its neighbours will also continue to improve.
In a real coup for the organisers and for all boxing fans present, a special guest will be welcomed at the tournament as Light Welterweight sensation Amir Khan makes an appearance. Great Britain's 25-year-old Athens Olympic Games silver medallist and former AIBA Junior World Champion's presence is a real endorsement for the tournament. Khan is proud of his roots with his parents born in Pakistan.
In other news, the Sri Lankan and the Nepali boxing teams have already arrived at the venue for the event and have joined their Pakistani counterparts in Islamabad for some pre-tournament sparring and training sessions to ensure a best possible preparation. The Nepali team are taking part in a 19-day-long training program in Pakistan before hoping to make a big impact during the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Memorial Tournament. The Lebanese Boxing Federation also decided to send athletes to Pakistan in advance.
In a great gesture of sporting goodwill, Pakistan's big neighbour and ancient rival India also confirmed their presence in Islamabad. Continuing the positive relations built last year, it is great to see sport rising above politics.
The best team at the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Memorial Tournament will pocket prize money of $5,000 while the runners-up will be awarded $2,000. The earnings have almost doubled in two years when at the last edition China received $2,500. The individual winners of each weight classes will earn $850 per head. This big event is sure to attract great attention which is a huge incentive for all participating nations.
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