The ensuing brouhaha in the aftermath of the last-minute cancellation of Martin Haikali’s much-anticipated bout against British opponent Dave Ryan, for the vacant Commonwealth junior lightweight title, has left boxing officials with egg on the face.
When quizzed by journalists during a well-attended press briefing in the capital yesterday as to why the boxer was overweight, handler Tobias Nashilongo, who accompanied Haikali to the United Kingdom, seemed to be annoyed by the unexpected question.
In a heated debate, the wrestler lookalike burly boxing trainer resolved to introduce some red herrings into the discussion – hurriedly and incoherently trying to advance lame excuses as to why the fight was called off at the eleventh hour.
The huge-framed Nashilongo could not be drawn into discussing the boxer’s excessive weight and chose to shield himself from any blame. He shifted the goalposts and rather took aim at the journalist for daring to pose such a question.
“It should be understood that the weather in England is quite different to ours here back at home, and it will be obvious for the boxer to be overweight because of various factors such as varying diet and freezing conditions,” charged a defensive Nashilongo in a high-pitched threatening tone towards the journalist.
It took the divine intervention of MTC’s strongman Tim Ekandjo to calm down the feisty situation, reminding the agitated Nashilongo that journalists reserve the right to seek answers on such unfolding events given the magnitude of interest in the said bout by boxing followers locally.
The calculated Ekandjo pulled no punches, telling the defensive Nashilongo in no uncertain terms that his behaviour was uncalled for and unacceptable, as such acts could potentially not only bring the agent into disrepute but Namibian boxing in general, while the credibility of sponsors could also be seriously compromised.
Ekandjo said it’s incumbent upon the boxer, his handlers and all parties involved to make sure the boxer remains within the required weight limit, and this can only be attained if boxers keep their weight limits in check by training regularly and not only when big fights beckon.
“What happened reflects negatively on the overall discipline of our boxers and I would therefore like to urge trainers to ensure that boxers are constantly kept fit and in good shape, to be ready at all times whenever requested to fight for international titles on short notice.”