The senior national boxing team head coach Lechedzani Luza, says the sport has showed some improvement this year, following the successful hosting of the national championship by Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA) last week.
BoBA hosted the season ending tournament where numerous titles where fought for. Though the tournament was without a sponsor, a large number of boxers graced the event which generated some entertaining bouts. The competition finals attracted 26 pugilists from 14 clubs across the country.
Speaking to Patriot Sport, Luza hailed the performances of the boxers, viewing it as the beginning of a new era for local boxing. “The championship was very competitive and there were couple of bouts which were real examples of what boxing is. It was very tough for most of the fights and if our boxers can have this level of competition more often we will do well in international competitions. So it is safe to say we are moving in the right direction now when compared to last year. In 2016 we were a bit stagnant but this year the boxers are looking good and there seems to be some improvement which means if we can take these boxers to the international arena we can get some good results,” said Luza.
However Luza believes the development of women boxing remains the major concern for the association. This follows a below par performances from most of the women boxers during the national championship as well as throughout the year. There has been minimum growth in the sport with most of inter-club tournaments attracting only three women bouts. During the national championship all the five bouts which were scheduled ended with the referees stopping the contests midway to determine the winners.
“We have regressed so much in the ladies section but last year it was very promising because we sent three women to the Commonwealth Games in Australia. The same women are there and the problem is that they have no competition and opponents to fight,” he said.
Only three female boxers have enjoyed success in the boxing arena in the past years. That is Aratwa Kasemang who managed to win bronze medal at the Africa Boxing Championships last year in Congo, Brazzaville. Keamogetse Kenosi and Lethabo Modukanele have performed well having managed to compete at the Africa Boxing Championships even though they did not bring any medal home. Kenosi’s notable success is a silver medal during the Zone VI Championships in 2016.
Earlier this year BoBA took a decision to introduce women boxing tournaments with the aim of improving the sport. At least two tournaments per season were proposed but none was staged throughout the year owing to lack pugilists as well as finances.
“We need to start everything from grassroots level. There are capable promising boxers at Botswana Integrated Sports Association structures so we can go there and unearth talent. And we also have to train coaches who will deal specifically with grooming women boxers because we can’t train them like men. Women deserve so much patience and care such that they do not end up quitting. So we need to support them fully because if they are few among a group of men they end up becoming uncomfortable which affects their commitment so as coaches we have to be taught on how to deal with them,” explained Luza.
For his part BoBA competitions coordinator Gibson Rauwe said they performed well as an association throughout the year. “We managed to achieve almost all of the targets we set for ourselves. At the beginning we set a target of 17 tournaments and we achieved that and we managed to take part in various international competitions which to some extend I can say we did fairly well. We are on the right track, we managed to send a boxer to Olympic Youth Games at Bahamas, World Championships and Commonwealth Games which are the biggest competitions,” said Rauwe.