Boxers miss out big due to lack of funds

• By Michael Uugwanga

THE Namibian Boxing Federation (NBF) has said that the reason it did not send boxers to the Zone Four boxing tournament in Maputo, Mozambique, as part of the Commonwealth Games qualifiers, was due to lack of funds.

The federation could not get financial assistance from the Namibia National Olympic Committee (NNOC) and the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC), hence the no show.

The amount that was needed to send boxers to Maputo was N$200 000, for travelling expenses, food, uniform and national colours.

The tournament in Maputo started on April 20 and will end on April 23, with top boxers in both male and female categories from Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia, Malawi, Eswatini, Mauritius and Seychelles, competing in different divisions for a spot at the Commonwealth Games slated for Birmingham, England, from July 28 to August 8.

Speaking to Confidente this week, NBF secretary-general Petrus Kashango said that the federation tried its best to secure funding, but with no success.

Thus, he said as it stands there is no boxer to represent the country in Birmingham, even the 2018 Commonwealth Games winner Jonas Junias Jonas -who won a gold medal in the men’s lightweight category in Sydney- will not be at the games this year.

“The reason why Namibian boxers are not participating in Mozambique is due to financial constraints. NBF does not have a sponsor itself that is why we could not send boxers to there (Maputo). We tried to approach NSC and NNOC and they have all said that they do not have money to assist us.

“There is no guarantee that Jonas will go defend his title in Birmingham,” said Kashango.

It is a big setback to NBF that completed the first phase of hosting a national championship in Eenhana in Ohangwena region which resulted in a team selected for Maputo.

Shalongo ‘Nande’ Naanda and Meriam Nghilongwa, were among the chosen who were expected to make history by becoming the first female boxers to compete at a major international tournament.

“We hosted a national championship in Eenhana with an aim of selecting a team to go to Mozambique.

“Unless there will be another qualifiers before the Commonwealth Games … for now this is where we are at this stage,” said Kashango.

The boxers that were expected to make a big splash in Maputo have expressed disappointment.

“It feels so bad after putting in too much effort in it. I am now not sure if there will be another qualifier,” said Immanuel Shaanika of Albertus Boxing Academy in Swakopmund.

Fearless middleweight boxer, Gerbhardt ‘Balluka’ Iipinge from Walvis Bay Boxing Club was looking forward to the qualifiers to make up for his non-event at the last AUSC Region 5 tournament, after his opponent withdrew at the last minute, which resulted in him returning back home without a fight.

“I have been delaying my studies and also studying with an empty stomach just to make the weight, only to be told at the last minute that we are not going. My dreams are shattered but let us wait for next year when the qualifiers to the 2024 Olympic Games take place,” he said.

Try Again Ndevelo, who represented the country at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, was looking forward to the tournament.

Ndevelo, a bantamweight boxer under Albertus Boxing Club, also missed out on a place to last year’s Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo after qualifiers were cancelled due to Covid-19.

“It is not a good feeling as we were ready for the tournament. Maybe we will get another opportunity”.