Tariq Abdul Haqq wept at the presentation of his Commonwealth Game titles medal and walked absent from boxing following fighting two globe heavyweight champions.
As the last male to carry a boxing silver medal back again to his house nation in 2010, Haqq should be revered in Trinidad and Tobago, but a descent into religious extremism has tarnished his ring career. Haqq headed to Syria to fight for Islamic State four several years afterwards – and would be killed in 2015.
Trinidad and Tobago has due to the fact found out a new tremendous-heavyweight contender in the towering form of Nigel Paul, an expectant entrant in the Tokyo Game titles, but he is unlikely to match the exploits of Haqq, a previous opponent for Britain’s Olympic 2012 star, Anthony Joshua.
“To stand in there with Anthony Joshua and exhibit a good account of himself,” recalled Haqq’s nationwide coach, Reynold Cox. “I imagine if Tariq had ongoing, he would probably be carrying out actually properly above the following couple several years.”
As a standout newbie, Haqq had specified his country fleeting achievement in the sport, main to a tense 1st spherical fight with Joshua at the Planet Championships in 2011. And only months previously, he had shipped a humbling defeat to New Zealand’s remarkably-rated youngster, Joseph Parker.
A talent for beat sports could be traced back again to Haqq’s teenage several years when he was hailed in a regional newspaper as a ‘schoolboy gladiator’, obtaining competed in Karate, Jiu-Jitsu, taekwondo and boxing, while also studying to develop into a law firm.
“When I am not at university or teaching, I just like to take in and snooze,” Haqq explained to The Trinidad and Tobago Newsday.
“This could possibly sound bizarre for anyone my age, but my mates are very supportive in what I do. I also believe that all people has certain options to make and I pick to do these factors right now.”
Haqq’s aunt was an legal professional-at-law, but his father Yaqub was a boxing coach, and schooling was set aside while he channelled his aggression solely into sport. At 6ft1in tall, he was not a specifically imposing fighter, although the teenage nationwide champion had caught the eye with a string of amazing wins, together with a forty five-second knockout of a visiting Puerto Rican.
On his senior debut in 2009, Haqq gained a severe tutorial from Erislandy Savon, an attained Cuban who inflicted a second-spherical stoppage loss, and would thrust Joshua to the brink of early elimination for the duration of a razor-slender details loss at the London Game titles.
Undeterred, Haqq secured his location on the Trinidad and Tobago workforce for the Commonwealth Game titles and would significantly exceed expectations in Delhi.
Haqq outclassed his opening opponent from Pakistan in a 10-1 victory. Up following was Parker, the Kiwi powerhouse who would afterwards assert the WBO heavyweight title in the professional ranks.
“I was there with that fight,” explained Cox, who was now overseeing Haqq’s newbie career. “It was a actually good fight for us – and I imagine what received the fight for Tariq is – his resolve. He held heading at Parker.
“Parker was probably dependent on his punching electrical power to gain the bout in which Haqq actually attempted to get the details on and utilised actually, actually good defence. It was a actually good bout to observe.”
Haqq’s accurate punches ended up most well-liked by a few of the five judges as he gained the slenderest of victories following ending the bout tied with Parker at seven-seven.
A narrow details gain above Cameroon’s Olympian Blaise Yepmou would then set up a fight versus house favorite Paramjeet Samota for the gold medal.
But the Indian fighter benefited from the couple details on supply in the closing as he closed out a 5-1 victory. Haqq was even now crying while the silver medal was draped all over his neck, perhaps owing to disappointment more than delight.
His closing fight of observe would come versus Joshua. They would be drawn collectively in the 1st spherical of the Planet Newbie Championships and Haqq, hampered by a persistent nose injuries, even now stood agency in the early rounds.
“He was a rough opponent, and if you search back again at it, AJ was actually even now pretty a lot a novice at the time, simply because of his late arrival into the video game, and then to go into the worlds,” Group GB coach Paul Walmsley explained to Sky Sports when reflecting on the opening fight in Azerbaijan.
“It was not the least complicated of bouts to get started with. I have received a small inkling that I could possibly have specified him a b*****king to action the tempo up as the bout went on.”
With only a couple details separating each fighters, Joshua responded to phrases of urgency and shown the fight-ending electrical power that would afterwards blaze a path to globe titles in the professional ranks. Haqq was halted in the 3rd and closing spherical. His boxing career was approximately above.
On his return to Trinidad and Tobago, Haqq turned embroiled in a row above funding and ruled himself out of the qualifiers for the London 2012 Game titles.
“I sense as if boxing in Trinidad would make no feeling and no one particular actually cares,” Haqq explained to The Trinidad Guardian.
Disillusioned with his nation’s regard for the sport, Haqq drifted absent and would only reappear several years afterwards, in content articles and a documentary about recruits for Islamic State.
Jürgen Todenhöfer, the 1st western journalist to be granted accessibility to ISIS-managed territory in Syria and Iraq, was taken aback by his meeting with Haqq, who had arrived in December 2014.
“We saw individuals from all above the globe, from Sweden, France, and the United States,” Todenhöfer explained in his documentary ‘Inside IS’.
“There was a male from the Caribbean. Incredibly good wanting. Incredibly charming. Stylish, Ray-Ban eyeglasses. And I explained, ‘what are you carrying out below? What have you completed before?’ He explained, ‘I’m heading to do what ever the caliph (Islamic State ruler) is asking’.”
Haqq was amid an alarmingly substantial selection of men who had travelled from Trinidad and Tobago, which had one particular of the greatest recruitment rates for Islamic State.
He was accompanied by his wife and his sister, Aliya, who unveiled how the dying of their father in an accidental capturing had been the catalyst for Tariq to develop into immersed in religious extremism.
“My brother came house one particular working day and he explained he was heading to Syria,” she explained to Simon Cottee for Trinidad and Tobago Newsday.
Cottee has verified to Sky Sports that Haqq was killed in 2015, but months previously he sustained serious accidents for the duration of a bombing in Syria, losing one particular of his palms, the resource of his finest talent.
Haqq’s name is even now outlined back again in Trinidad and Tobago, although only for his sporting achievements, and coach Cox is optimistic that Paul, an athletic 6ft4in tall fighter, could also show up on a podium at a main event. The affable thirty-12 months-old made a fleeting appearance at the Rio Game titles in which he endured an early exit, but Cox is hopeful that Paul can greatly enhance the region’s status for boxing.
“Boxing requires pleasant men and job products to really get more individuals included in the sport.
“Paul is a very first rate male. He’s very pleasant occasionally. It could possibly be a dilemma with him in the actual sport. You need to have to be very vicious occasionally in boxing. You need to have to be very intense.
“But for getting a job model for the sport, I imagine Nigel Paul is anyone that we could actually use to get the sport more recognized in the nation and more popular.”