Manus Refugee To Challenge For World Boxing Title
Refugees in Australia's offshore camps usually have enough of a fight on their hands, but Pakistani man Ezatullah Kakar is in a battle of a different kind.
Kakar, 26, has been in Papua New Guinea since 2013. A former kickboxing and mixed martial arts talent in his homeland, the young man has used boxing as an outlet and hobby over the long years he has spent in PNG waiting for resettlement in a new country.
"I always believe in myself. Everything needs hard work," he told 10 daily.
"I used my winnings to pay for my accommodation and training."
Many refugees have stayed around the Manus Island area after the detention centre there was decommissioned last year and detainees relocated to several smaller units.
But Kakar said he moved to the country's capital Port Moresby, far to the south on the PNG mainland, to pursue his athletic dreams.
"I came to Port Moresby by myself to keep training. I found a boxing gym because I didn't find a kickboxing club, but I was believing I can do boxing easily because I used to do MMA and kickboxing," he explained.
"In six months I had two fights in Port Morseby where I won easy."
After his initial successes against local fighters, Kakar said he put out a challenge to undefeated John Korake -- the holder of the World Boxing Society's Asia-Pacific light heavyweight title.
Korake has accepted the challenge, and the pair will square off at Port Moresby's Sir John Guise Indoor Stadium on December 16.
"I gave the challenge to the PNG undefeated champion because I believe in myself and I keep fighting for Manus and Nauru," Kakar told 10 daily.
Kakar's promising, budding fighting career in Pakistan was cut short when he fled his homeland, and was further dented by years spent in immigration detention limbo on Manus. Now, he hopes boxing could be his way out of PNG -- and into a new life.
He said he would love to represent any country that agrees to resettle him at Olympic games or international competitions.
"I hope New Zealand or Canada will sponsor me [for a refugee visa]. I will show my strength and talent to the world. I am still young, I can become UFC or boxing champion," Kakar said.
"My request to all the world is get me from this hell and I will represent any country."
But for now, his focus is on the December fight, and claiming the championship from Korake.
"I will get this belt from the undefeated champion and this belt I will take to Manus," he said.
"This is my happiness and my career. New Zealand, Canada and Australia have the chance to sponsor me -- otherwise one day, they will miss me."