By Carlos Kambaekwa
Namibia hosted the 2nd International Boxing Association (AIBA) Qualification Tournament and came out with flying colours despite all the odds staked against her.
The president of the African Zone Six Boxing Federation Victor Mohapi showered the Namibian Government, in particular the Minister of Youth, National Ser-vice, Sport and Culture John Mutorwa and it’s Local Organizing Committee (LOC) with piles of praises for their organizational acumen which he described as “absolutely phenomenal”.
The 2nd and final AIBA Olympic qualifiers for the African continent ended in the capital on Saturday with no major hiccups reported such as serious knockout injuries to boxers and the customary protests brought about by aggrieved participants and their handlers.
“I’m dead serious, in all my life as boxing administrator, I’ve never came across such a well organized event on the boxing calendar and what really struck the mind is the manner in which the boxers were treated.
“For the very first time in the history of African boxing – boxers were housed in five-star hotels and I must take my hat off to the Namibian Government and its National Sports Commission who have both contributed immensely to the success of this continental tournament – it was not only a triumph for Namibia but for the entire Southern African region.”
Asked as to why the organizers made a sudden U-turn and altered the programme that led to the cancellation of what was supposed to be a rest day last Thursday, Mohapi was quick to scoff at any suggestions that the LOC was at fault.
“It was a collective decision, because we looked at the long hours that the boxers were subjected to and resolved to reschedule the bouts on Thursday in order to give the boxers more breathing space in between the fights and it ultimately turned out to be the correct decision.”
Mohapi applauded the LOC for ensuring the visiting boxers and officials remained comfortable in and out of the ring.
“The Namibian hospitality was just something out of the top drawer and even when the boxers went on their errands after hours, there were no burglaries or any hostility shown towards them and that’s something which is very unheard of in many countries these days.”
On the flip side of the coin, the 48-year old mentor expressed disappointment over the somewhat sub standard performance by boxers from the Zone Six region with the bulk of them failing to make a significant impact in the 10-day tournament.
Namibia made good use of her home ground advantage and managed to grab two of the 33 qualifying berths at stake, in addition to the one already in the bag via the fists of Commonwealth champion Japhet Uutoni who secured his Olympic entry with a gold medal in the first qualifiers at Algiers earlier this year.
Southern African powerhouse South Africa could only muster a paltry entry of two boxers for the global showpiece which gets under way in earnest in August later this year.
“I must confess that I’m not entirely happy with the performance of our boxers but that can understandably be attributed to a number of factors and its my sincere belief that our boxers were extremely ill-prepared because of time constraints.
“When we went to the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne two years ago, we had able time to organize competitive tournaments amongst ourselves and held training camps in both Botswana and South Africa so that exercise certainly helped us a great deal in our preparation and the ultimate results can attest to that.”
Mohapi took over the reins after the death of South African advocate Berrington Mkhize who died in 2005. He is also the vice-president of the African Boxing Confederation (ABC) and chairman of the Youth Commission – a subsidiary arm of AIBA.