Tareq Azim has learned to apply the basics of success from one area in his life to another, fulfilling a responsibility he accepts to represent himself, his family, and their country of origin in a dignified manner. He does so through the exercise of his talents in boxing and other combat sports, as well as in social and political activism aimed at uniting, serving, and empowering the people of Afghanistan. His most unique contribution to growing and strengthening the nation comes from his establishment in 2007 of the Afghani Women’s Boxing Federation.
Azim explains that he started the Afghani Women’s Boxing Federation in 2007 because the world wants Afghanistan to stand on its own two feet. “Well how do you expect it to stand on its own two feet,” he asks, “if it’s a male dominated society and women have nothing to say? Women have to be the second foot.” Strengthening that foot and balancing the national posture are an end result of building relationships, he says, and now that the process has begun it will most likely perpetuate itself as the program continues.
“What I did is I united with the people of Afghanistan,” says Azim; “the supposed warlords and some of the gangsters and some people who are extremists, and supposedly some of the people who are for women’s oppression like the Taliban—and I connected with people from every single one of these groups about my mission of wanting to start the Afghan Women’s Boxing Federation and why. . . I introduced the most male dominated activity in the world, which is Boxing, Combat Sports, to women. And I challenged the women, I said, ‘You want to be treated and respected like a man? Well come learn how to fight like a man. Make a stance at the world; show these people that you’re not scared; you’ll stand up to anything. If they’re standing up to getting punched in the face by each other, they’re going to stand up to anything.”
Azim was born in Germany in 1982, the country to which his parents fled from the Soviet communist occupation of Afghanistan and the disappearance of his maternal grandfather as a prisoner of war in 1978. Azim explains that his grandfather, General Shaw Wali who was a fighter pilot in the Afghani Air Force, always told his mother that if she had a son his name would be Tareq. Knowledge of this family story seals a bond Tareq Azim has with the Grandfather he never met, and it motivates his continued work through boxing and Mixed Martial Arts, as well as his support of Hope of Mother, the nonprofit he co-founded with his own Mother, Mina Wali, in 2004. The organization, found on line at www.hopeofmother.org, assists Afghani people through three other projects besides the Afghani Women’s Boxing Federation, including the Shawl Patcha Academy of Education, a private coed school for young men and women in the largest Opium cultivated region of Nengrahar and the first school in the area to allow female students; Shawl Wali Khan Center for Orphans, a recreation center with tutoring, mentoring, and other activities, as well as protection from potential kidnapping into terrorist organizations; and Lily’s Medical clinic, the first facility of its kind in a town called Surchroad Village.
Azim and his family immigrated to San Francisco, CA shortly after his birth, and in 2004 he graduated with Bachelors Degrees in Environmental Science and Agribusiness from Fresno State University. Azim, who now stands at 6’-2” and caries a weight of 185 pounds, explains that he compiled a total record of 16 and 2 as an amateur boxer, and he has a Professional Kickboxing record of 6 and 1. A close friend who helped with his amateur boxing training took him to the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, run by former Lightweight contender and trainer of 23 World Champions, Freddie Roach. At Roach’s gym Azim was paired with veteran trainer Juan Carlos Martinez, also known as “Panda”. He enjoyed training under Panda, and in the gym of champions he developed his competitive edge and also learned to teach and train others. As a kick boxer and mixed martial artist he eventually secured work as a trainer at Fairtex Muy Thai in San Francisco. He currently trains a number of successful professional Mixed Martial Artists, and he travels every third week back to Los Angeles in order to train at Wild Card. Fairtex is listed as a sponsor on the Hope of Mother web page, and Azim says he received tremendous support from both them and Wild Card in establishing the Afghani Women’s Boxing Program. He credits Fairtex with providing the majority of necessary equipment and apparel for the program’s initial success, and Freddie Roach, Juan Carlos “Panda” Martinez and everyone at Wild Card for the skills and confidence to initiate it.
“If it wasn’t for wild Card I would never have been a good boxer, I wouldn’t be sponsored by Fairtex,” he said. “I wouldn’t have that avenue, you know, so I give Wild Card all the credit in the world because they developed my hunger and desire as a good boxer, and I especially credit Juan Carlos ‘Panda’ Martinez.”
While training as an amateur at Wild Card Azim was hoping to make the Afghan Olympic team, but an injury halted progress towards that goal. So he adapted his ambitions and channeled them into incorporating boxing into other forms of combat sport, as well as to directing his energy into Hope of Mother projects.
Hope of Mother has scheduled a fundraising gala in San Francisco for 8:00 p.m. Wednesday, August 26 at Ruby Skye. Tickets are $100, and attire is Cocktail. Entertainment will be provided by DJ Amplive of ZION I with Special Guests and San Francisco celebrity entertainment, DJ Momentum, local and national leaders, and a Surprise Guest as Master of Ceremonies.
“We’re looking to grow bigger and stronger, of course,” Azim says. “That’s why I keep fighting and staying in the limelight of the fighting arts, because of the media attention and support that I can attract people toward our programs and create awareness and show all athletes in the world that us athletes are extremely powerful if we just know how to use our power.
Tareq Azim on Boxing to Improve Mixed Martial Arts Performance, and his Assessment on how Brock Lesnar can be Defeated
© Copyright 2009, Mark Connor