Soon after I joined, I decided to take up the
challenge, and took to boxing during the very
first session in 1962. The trainers were good and
so were the other young boxers. To my surprise, I
found myself winning the bouts. I always thought
that being small in size (I was rather slim and
short then) would be a disadvantage. But very soon
I got the hang of it, and the tricks of trade.
I was prepared to be a fighter. The day arrived
when I was confident that I would be chosen to be
a member of the Ayub House boxing team. I was
rejected - for being underweight. My weight was
less than the minimum required for the "Gnat
Weight" class - the last category. Was I dejected!
I could have cried.
There were many well-wishers amongst my seniors in
Ayub House. They seemed to like my style and felt
sure that I could win the Gnat Weight trophy. The
greatest appreciation came from Bashir Vistro
50/A, who was the Ayub House Boxing Champion.
Bashir used to watch me fight keenly every day,
appreciating my style, zeal and agility. As the
Captain of the house boxing team, he would make us
On the last day of the practice, the day before
the championships were to be held, my seniors
called ma and made a plan to get me into the ring.
I was briefed by Ashiq Hussain Shah 203/A,
205, Afzal and my J.U.O. Masood Aziz to
enter the ring and challenge everybody in my
weight. The seniors would arrange to get me into
the ring. They seemed to have the ear of
Capt. Alam Jan Mahsud, the adjutant (now retired Lt.
As instructed, I walked into the ring on the night
of the Championships without being called. Then
there was an announcement, "Young cadet Najmi from
Ayub House has a message for all of you!" The
announcement was still echoing in my ears, when I
found myself in the centre of the ring, facing the
VIP enclosure where the Principal
the Adjutant Capt. Alam Jan Mahsud and all the
teachers were sitting and looking at this curious
little boy standing before them. It must have been
the encouraging smile on their faces that gave me
the courage to raise my right arm, and I shouted
with confidence, "I challenge all in my weight!"
There was a pin drop silence that followed,
sending the shivers down my spine. I had never
faced such a crowd before. A confusion crept into
my mind. What should be my next move? Or was I
The time passed and there was no response from the
crowd. The seniors from Jinnah, Liaquat and Latif
houses (there were only 4 houses in those days)
got busy, trying to find some boxer in the Gnat
weight to accept the challenger. The whispers and
the suggestions of names got louder. But I could
see no one coming forth.
I stood in the middle of the ring, wearing the
boxing kit, boxing gloves, etc., bouncing around
trying to scare any one who would dare to accept
the challenge. Then there was an announcement. The
referee declared me to be the winner, since no one
had accepted the challenge. It was a clear
walkover. As I crossed the ring ropes, Ashiq
Hussain and Afzal lifted me on their shoulders in
celebration. It was one of the most unforgettable
moments of my life.
Later on I found out that
Capt. Alam Jan Mahsud
reprimanded seniors of the other houses for not
finding a cadet who would accept the challenge. He
always believed that a challenge must be accepted,
even though one may lose. That is the sign of
bravery and courage, which is the
hallmark of the Armed Forces as