By Carlos Kambaekwa
The University of Namibia (Unam) is to host the historic Olympic Qualifiers for African boxers with more than 45 countries expected to converge on Namibian soil for the 10-day event which gets under way in earnest on the 22nd of this month.
With less than two weeks left, altogether 21 countries have already confirmed their participation and indicated that they would arrive in Namibia by the start of next week to acclimatize, while the rest have been given breathing space to get their ducks in the row before the 13th of this month.
The Namibian Amateur Boxing Association as per directives from the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA), which stipulate that boxers keep a healthy distance from referees and other bout officials resolved to house the boxers at the Safari Hotel, while it fishes around for alternative accommodation for the tournament officials.
Hosts Namibia have selected a large contingent of ten boxers for the tournament with the exception of Japhet Uutoni, who has already punched his way through to Beijing at his first attempt during the first leg of the African Qualifiers in Algiers, earlier this year.
Boxers in the 48 up to the 81 kilogram weight categories have been thrown a lifeline with three places up for grabs in each division, which means the winner and runner-up will earn automatic qualification while the remaining qualifying berth will go to the losing semifinalist against the champion.
There will be 29 places up for grabs and only the gold medalist will qualify from the 91 and above kilograms weight.
The President of the Namibian Amateur Boxing Association, Kelly Nghixulifwa , made an urgent plea to local business to come on board and financially assist the Namibian Government to foot the hefty bill normally attached to hosting events of such magnitude.
In the meantime, internationally acclaimed hockey coach Erwin Handura has been appointed as project manager with well-known sport journalist Isaac Hamata heading the Media and Accreditation Department of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC).
Other prominent members on the LOC are Lemmy Geingob (Team Namibia), Ambrose Kandjii (Meals and Accommodation), Striker Mabuku (Transport), Simon Karongee (Technical), Kelly Nghixulifwa (Finance, Marketing & Sponsorship), Raphael Aluteni (Secretariat), Donatha Gawanab (Medical) and Darius Mieze (Security & Protocol).
The LOC will be out to make a big impression with the expected arrival of AIBA President Ching-Kuo Wu and a beefy technical delegation from Europe.