‘Corruption, lack of funding hampering growth of boxing in Africa’

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Corruption, lack of funding and the lack of competitive bouts are hampering the growth and development of boxing in Africa. That’s according to the African boxing authorities at the launch of Mandela African Boxing Cup.

The week-long inaugural tournament is being staged in Durban. The tournament, featuring amateur boxers, aims to recognize the role of South Africa’s first democratic President Nelson Mandela in his fight for liberation and to inspire young boxers to reach new heights.

More than 350 boxers from 36 nations across the globe have descended on eThekwini. They are set to slug it out in what promises to be an action-packed affair in the boxing rings.

Launching the tournament, boxing authorities in Africa pointed out hiccups that hinder the growth of the sport in Africa. With corruption and lack of competitive bouts as some of the challenges.

“For seven years the African boxing is going down, we don’t have structures, we don’t have proper offices. When I was elected, I realized that there was nothing, there was a lot of corruption, people from international boxing and African boxing confederation, they took all the budgets, that’s why African boxing is going down. Now we have started fighting corruption,” says Eyassu Wossen, Congress of African Boxing Confederation.

“You can have ideas, you can have anything, if you don’t have money to implement those ideas you will never be able to. In this country and beyond I don’t think that we need to speak in this country about only South Africa, if you want South African boxers to be able to be competent at the international level, at the Olympics, at the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games, there must be a vibrant competition within Africa, regional competitions,” says Aleck Skhosana, Mandela African Boxing Cup LOC Chair.

The International Boxing Association says the tournament provides a platform for amateur boxers to gain much-needed exposure going into the Olympic qualifiers. The association has invested R9 million as prize money for the event.

“It’s about trying to harness those skills and been able to operate well and effectively with what you have got in place. We offer financial support program to bring in equipment, to bring in the rings and try to correct the platform for the boxers to be able to train and that’s import,” says Chris Roberts OBE/International Boxing Association.

The last time South Africa qualified for boxing at the Olympics was in 2008. Something authorities say will improve as they have put in place proper structures.

“We have designed a plan where we selected boxers which will be in the team for four years. Our hope is that they remain in the team, but we did get assistance from SASCOC where we had ones that are identified and then they got financial support. So, they are being paid stipends on monthly basis,” says Lwandiso Kwababana of Mandela African Boxing Cup.

Most of the participants in this tournament hope to use this to prepare for the Olympic qualifies to be held in Thailand.