3rd BCT PAO, 4th Inf. Div., MND-B
ADHAMIYAH, Iraq – As a two-time Olympian shouted instructions from the side, two boxers sparred for the crowd of onlookers to celebrate the reopening of the Adhamiyah Sports Complex in northeast Baghdad.
Following a $200,000 facelift that was funded through commander’s emergency relief program funds, the Adhamiyah Sports Complex now boasts a remodeled boxing gym, an indoor basketball court/soccer field, administration office and a FIFA-regulation 5-on-5 Astroturf soccer field.
“Adhamiyah as a whole has been waiting for this complex to reopen for a while,” said Capt. William Murphy, a Waltham, Mass., native who serves as a Civil Affairs team leader for Company A, 401st Civil Affairs Battalion, which is currently attached to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad.
The Adhamiyah Sports Complex was once the training grounds for many former Iraqi Olympians. One of those former national champions now heads the boxing program there – Farouk Changchun.
The champion, who competed in the 1976 and 1980 Olympics, served as the flag bearer for his country during the 1980 Moscow Games. As his young protegees put on a demonstration for the crowd, Changchun gushed over the new gear donated by USA Boxing. The donation included head gear, gloves, trunks and shirts.
“We are happy to get any help in sports material and supplies from USA Boxing because it spreads the feeling of humanity everywhere,” Changchun said. “A lot of people think that boxers have very harsh feelings and a very hard heart, but it’s not true, boxers have a very kind heart.”
Changchun said he is hopeful that some of his students will one day get to represent Iraq as he was able to do twice in his lifetime.
“I’m hoping that there are future Olympians in this room,” he said.
As the boxing demonstration concluded, there was another important event at the complex. A soccer match between the predominantly Shia district of Kadhamiyah and the Sunni dominated Adhamiyah district was being played on the newly opened Astroturf field.
“That’s the greatest accomplishment for this entire project,” Murphy said.
By Sgt. Zach Mott