Boxing and football mark Palestinian sports history

A group of Palestinians play soccer in the southern Gaza Strip (Majdi Fathi/Getty)

Before the Nakba, Palestinian sports did not receive accurate documentation, as well as culture and art, except in the mid-1990s through Palestinian researchers, especially with the beginning of the establishment of the Palestinian Self-Government, as the core of the state, while Palestinian sports continued to represent combat activities only in PLO federations, without that it had an independent real and institutional presence.

mid twenties; The Zionist movement understood the need to control cultural and sports activities in Palestine, as part of soft power, with which it could promote its right to exist in Palestine, its struggle against “British occupation” through peaceful means and the normalization of relations with Arab countries, so it wanted to represent the State of Palestine at several meetings between Zionist and Arab teams in Egypt and Lebanon, as well as its representation in international sports institutions.

By the mid-1940s, the Arab community had a clear perception and real awareness of the nature of the conflict based on the sports arena in Palestine, after the weakness and lackluster presence had been the basic feature of the Palestinian sports movement, despite the fact that the Sports Federation was founded in the early 1930s, more precisely in 1931.

The struggle of the Palestinians in the sports movement was not limited to opposing the Zionist movement in the objections that the Palestinian and Arab entities presented to the countries and regional and international sports institutions, such as the quest of the Palestinians to join FIFA in 1929, which ended in rejection.weights) with Arab teams and athletes in Palestine and in Arab countries.

Palestinian sports were practiced before the mandate; At the end of the Ottoman rule, through Christian missionary schools and some Islamic religious associations, in all the cities of Palestine, especially in the cities of Jerusalem and Jaffa, some sources mention that the Orthodox Club in Jaffa is the oldest of these clubs; Founded in 1924.

dr. Izzat Tannous, in his research on the sports movement in pre-mandate Palestine, mentioned that “the first football match between two countries in the Middle East was in 1912, when a team from the Syrian Evangelical College in Beirut (later known as the American University) came to Jerusalem in the spring to play with various football teams in the Holy City (CMS – Christian Youth School – St. George’s School – Jerusalem national team),” added Tannous: “In 1913, the Jerusalem team went to compete with the Jerusalem College team in Beirut in four regular matches until 1914.”

One of the most famous players of that period in Jerusalem; From 1910 to 1916 Sharif al-Nashashibi, what distinguished that period; Palestinian Muslims and Christians played sports in Christian and Islamic missionary clubs, and jointly developed sports infrastructure.

in Jaffa; Many joined the Orthodox Club, which included an athletic hall, tennis court and other individual facilities. While the Al-Bariya Football Stadium belonged to the Islamic Endowments Land in the Al-Rashid quarter of Jaffa, where he founded and joined the Jaffa Club in 1926.

Clubs were not limited to the larger cities, but the number of sports clubs increased from the late thirties to the mid-forties, such as the Al-Nahda club in Tantora, which joined the Arab Union in Haifa and represented Palestine internationally in 1946. Among the most famous players were Muhammad Ali Nour, Medhat Hindi and Ahmed Naim Desouki.

Football was loved and widespread among the Palestinian-Arab youth. Matches between Palestinian-Arab and Jewish teams were held before the 1936 revolution in mixed cities. Especially in the city of Jaffa, but also in other cities of Palestine, matches between Palestinian Arab teams were organized. Historian Tannous mentions that 5 thousand fans and spectators attended the match held in Jerusalem in 1910 between two Jerusalem teams. , drawing attention to the presence of veiled women.

Sports activities in Palestine were not limited to football. Athletics, hockey and billiards had little presence among the inhabitants of large cities, such as Jerusalem, Jaffa and Haifa. Issa Abu Al-Jabeen mentions in his memoirs; Palestinian boxer who rose to fame in the 1940s and represented Palestine in several regional and international forums. His Eminence, Mufti Haj Amin Al-Husseini, handed over the Palestine Cup in the early 1930s to Musa Abu Al-Jabeen in a pool game.

The boxing game gained great fame and great interest among the Palestinian public. Palestinian radio stations broadcast his local and regional matches, so all the people gathered around the radio to listen to his matches. Maybe the last game; Which was broadcast on June 24, 1946 between the Egyptian boxer Arafa Al-Sayed and Adeeb Al-Desouki in the Eastern Championship, the strongest memories that the ancestors carried in their diaspora. Based on the voice of Khair El-Din who conveys the news of the awarding of Mr. Adeeb El-Dasouki the title of “Champion of Palestine” due to the love and popularity of this sport, which represented a model for the individual popular hero and resistance in the Palestinian imagination.

Adeeb Al-Dasouki was a popular boxing champion in Palestine. His matches attracted a lot of attention from the audience, the media and the public.

Clubs were not limited to larger cities, but the number of sports clubs increased from the end of the thirties to the mid-forties.

in 1942; Al-Dasouki defeated Middle Eastern champion Marous and Kerchian, who was considered one of the internationally renowned boxing champions. Issam Al-Khalidi in his book “One Hundred Years of Football in Palestine” records the opening of the first boxing club in Palestine. 1933, under the name of the Haifa Boxing and Sports Club (which was later named after the Ghazi Club (in reference to King Ghazi), led by the Palestinian boxer Adeeb Kamal. During this period, several boxing clubs were founded, such as the Association for Torture and Comfort in Haifa, as well as the Arab Youth Club in Haifa in 1934.

During the British Mandate period, Palestinian newspapers paid attention to the sports movement, publishing its news and covering its matches and issues. There were sports columns and reports in the Palestinian newspapers, which appeared in 1936, Al Difaa, which appeared in 1934, and Al Shaab in 1945. Jamil Al Taher is considered one of the first sports editors, along with Ibrahim Sakjaha Khair al-Din Abu al-Jabin, who had a daily column, and Ibrahim Salim Nusseibeh, a commentator and sports broadcaster on Radio Al-Quds in 1935.

The Nakba is not a question of the destruction of Palestinian buildings and institutions that were established on that land at that time, but the comprehensive destruction and dispersal of the Palestinian spirit with its people, leaders and players. Stadiums, matches/clubs and games, to achieve this and resist the Zionist gangs and their colonization of the Palestinian presence.

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