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Montgomery Education Foundation's Brain Forest Summer Learning Academy was spotlighted Wednesday at Carver High School.  The academic-enrichment program is for rising 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the Montgomery Public School system.  Community Program Director Dillion Nettles, says the program aims to prevent learning loss during summer months.  To find out how your child can participate in next summer's program visit Montgomery-ed.org

A police officer is free on bond after being arrested following a rash of road-sign thefts in southeast Alabama.  Brantley Police Chief Titus Averett says officer Jeremy Ray Walker of Glenwood is on paid leave following his arrest in Pike County.  The 30-year-old Walker is charged with receiving stolen property.  Lt. Troy Johnson of the Pike County Sheriff's Office says an investigation began after someone reported that Walker was selling road signs from Crenshaw County.  Investigators contacted the county engineer and learned signs had been reported stolen from several roads.

NPR Politics presents the Lunchbox List: our favorite campaign news and stories curated from NPR and around the Web in digestible bites (100 words or less!). Look for it every weekday afternoon from now until the conventions.

Convention Countdown

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Not Exactly A Boxing Capital, Kabul Stages A Championship Bout

Oct 31, 2012
Originally published on October 31, 2012 3:35 pm

It wasn't Caesar's Palace. It was the Loya Jirga Hall at Kabul Polytechnic University -– a building where Afghanistan's elders gather to discuss matters of national importance.

But for one night, there was boxing with all the hype of Las Vegas –- minus the showgirls.

The star attraction was Kabul native Hamid Rahimi, 29, who has spent most of his life in Germany and is a celebrated middleweight boxer. He became the World Boxing Union champion earlier this year.

After years of working to hold a fight in Kabul, his dream came true Tuesday. Rahimi said the event was to celebrate Afghanistan's athletes and to send a message of peace to the world.

The "Fight 4 Peace" was held to fill the World Boxing Organization's vacant intercontinental middleweight title.

It was hardly peaceful getting into the hall.

Fans paid at average of $100 each (a monthly salary in Kabul might be only $200 to $300). The crowd was told the event would start at 7 p.m., and hundreds lined up outside the gates. But at 7, after some people had entered, police and security officials closed the gates.

The crowd kept massing and pressed closer to the gate. Tensions flared. There was pushing and shoving initially. Then things got ugly.

Police started swinging batons and pushing the crowd back. A mass of people were forced up against a chain-link fence that fortunately gave way and allowed the men to spill over into an adjacent lot. At that point, police drove a pickup truck armed with a heavy machine gun into the crowd to force them back.

Eventually things calmed down and police started letting people in. Catastrophe averted.

Inside, amped-up TV presenters spoke in Dari and Pashto -– the two languages of Afghanistan –- and shouted to the crowd that the event was being broadcast live in 52 countries (unconfirmed).

A mullah delivered a prayer and blessing of the event. The first warm-up act featured a young man juggle soccer balls while loud music blared.

Then, two male pop singers took turns badly lip-syncing patriotic tunes. It had the energy of a Vegas event, but was done Afghan-style -– wholesome, completely devoid of women and a bit unorganized.

After a quick display of martial arts and kickboxing, the main event began.

For six rounds, Rahimi and his Tanzanian opponent Said Mbelwa shuffled around the ring, landing few punches of substance. Mbelwa often took to dancing and gesticulating -– a touch of Muhammad Ali, though without the heft to back it up.

Between rounds, a man wearing cargo pants and a black T-shirt paraded around the ring with placards displaying the round number.

In the seventh round, the two fighters exchanged a few blows and suddenly Mbelwa pulled away, grabbing his shoulder in pain. It wasn't clear whether he took a punch or was injured while throwing one.

Regardless, after a quick check by the fight doctors, the bout was called. Rahimi won by technical knockout. (See some video from Al Jazeera.)

As fights go, it was a dud. But the crowd still went nuts. Riot police had to encircle the ring to prevent rabid fans from jumping in to celebrate.

Eventually, security calmed things down and the boxing officials presented Rahimi with his WBO champion's belt.

The event was billed as the first professional fight in Afghanistan, and it reflected the nature of things in the country: It was passionate and proud, if unorganized and teetering on the brink of violence.

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