Ishaish brothers share steep path to becoming Olympians

Jordanian boxing brothers Hussein and Ziad Ishaish
Jordanian boxing brothers Hussein and Ziad Ishaish. (Photos: Reuters)
AMMAN — Jordanian boxing champs, Hussein and Ziad Ishaish hail from a family of athletes. Since 2009, the two brothers have carried the torch passed down and are now preparing to represent Jordan in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.اضافة اعلان

The siblings qualified for the Games — set to run from July 23 to August 8 —  after leaving their mark on the Asia and Oceania qualifiers, which Jordan hosted between March 3 and 11, last year.

“I first took up boxing at the Jordan Youth Center in Al-Baqaa camp, alongside my brother Ziad,” Hussein Ishaish said in an interview with Jordan News.

“Fifteen athletes have carried the family name in boxing, including my brothers Ziad (23) and Zaid (14),” Hussein added, noting that his youngest brother has been crowned champion of Jordan’s U16 boxing championship.

Forced to drop out of school after finishing 10th grade, Hussein said he and his brother have had to tread a rocky road to the Olympics, adding that COVID-19 has only made it more difficult to train and stay in shape.

“The pandemic has been difficult for everyone, keeping us locked at home to train and try and stay in shape.”

But against all odds, Hussein said he has his sights set on an Olympic medal for Jordan.

“I ranked fifth in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Today, I look forward to bagging an Olympic medal in Tokyo with my brother Ziad by my side, especially since we showcased the excellence of Jordanian boxing at the Asia qualifiers and will be competing side by side for the first time at this year’s Olympics,” Hussein explained.

For his part, Ziad Ishaish recalled his “amazing” first time travelling abroad to represent the Kingdom.

“My first international appearance for Jordan was at the international championship in Turkey back in 2015, which was an amazing experience. In that moment, you realize how much work you are actually putting into it, because representing your country abroad is not easy and is a major responsibility,” Ziad told Jordan News, noting that such experiences are important for athletes to come in contact with their peers and gain experience.

The younger Ishaish brother attributed significant portion of his improvement over the years to his brother Hussein.

“We have been training at home every for years. It really pays off having someone close to you who knows what you go through in training and when you’re in the ring. We hype each other up before every fight when we’re competing outside Jordan,” Ziad said.

Ziad Ishaish was the only Arab boxer to win a medal at the Indonesia-hosted 2018 Asian Games — the young boxer’s “greatest moment”.

“Before qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, the Asian Games in Indonesia were my greatest moment. I won bronze back then, which was the only medal won by a Jordanian and Arab in that edition of the Games,” Ziad said.

He continued: “It was an important milestone in terms of preparing for the Olympic qualifiers and a chance to better understand my weaknesses, so that I can work on them with the national team’s coaches.”

“We want to go to Tokyo together,” the duo concluded, hoping to make Jordanians proud.

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