Knockout blow

Kitso Ramono
NO: Kenosi at the olympics

Boxers miss out on lucrative Africa Champs

The delayed arrival of their BNSC grant has proved a knockout blow to the Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA), who were unable to send a team to the on-going Africa Boxing Championships (AFBC) in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

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Missing out on Africa’s largest, most lucrative boxing competition comes as a painful punch to the pocket for the country’s fighters, especially after their heroics at the 2022 championships, when they left Mozambique with a seven-medal haul.

With prize money doubled from last year – gold is now worth P261, 222, silver a cool P130, 000 and bronze P65, 000 – it is the type of potential pay-day our local pugilists rarely get the chance to fight for.

For BoBA, it compounds the end of a difficult few weeks in which they were downgraded from a Tier One sport to Tier Two by the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC).

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It means that instead of the P700, 000 they received in previous years, their grant has been whittled down to P490, 000.

Expressing his frustration to Voice Sport this week, the association’s Secretary General, Taolo Tlouetsile, said, “The funds arrived two weeks before the tournament began [25 July]. Our players had not been training and we couldn’t send an unfit team. Also, we didn’t know how much we would be given because it was our first time being relegated to tie two.”

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The dip in funding and it’s late arrival has been felt throughout the sport, with BoBA forced to cancel their plans to send referees for a course in Cameroon and scrap the inter-club tournaments they had intended to host.

They are not even in a position to organise training camps for athletes!

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“Our players are also struggling because the majority of them rely on camp allowances and money earned during competitions; when there are no camps or tournaments, it means they are struggling,” stressed Tlouetsile.

So far this year, Botswana’s boxers have competed at a single international event – the Women Boxing Championships in India back in March.

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Despite this inactivity, Tlouetsile’s focus in now firmly fixed on the future and the Olympic qualifiers in Senegal set for September.

“Despite the fact that we are now preparing for the Paris 2024 Qualification, we have yet to receive funds from BNOC, which has yet to say anything,” he couldn’t resist as a parting shot .

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