Wrestling remains in the shadows

By Michael Uugwanga

DESPITE wrestling being a sport code on its own under the Namibia Professional Boxing, the code is far from being professionalised because there is no track record of professional wrestling in the country.

Wrestling operates under the Namibia Professional Boxing and Wrestling Control Board (NPBWCB) which is currently spearheaded by former Minister of Health, Dr Bernard Haufiku who is the board’s chairperson.

Another body responsible for wrestling in the country is the Namibia Wrestling Federation (NWF) however the body is only in charge at an amateur level.

Executive Director in the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service, Sivhute Katamba has therefore urged those with knowledge of professionalising wrestling to approach the ministry in order for the code to be professionalised like boxing.

Although the Directorate of Sport has over the years been giving the NPBWCB close to N$1 million annually, the code has not been receiving a single cent from the portion of the money.

In the past, there have been reports of mismanagement at NPBWCB, resulting in the government cutting funding of the board since 2016.

“There is no record of professional wrestling or wrestlers in Namibia and there was never a request for establishment of a professional wrestling body. If there are any professional wrestlers, they must approach the Ministry for us to assist with the setting up of the relevant body.

“The fact that there is no record of professional wrestling or wrestlers in Namibia meant that professional wrestling as a code is redundant. How do we fund a code or body that is non-existent?” said Katamba.

Amateur wrestling continues to do wonders for the country with sensation Romeo Goliath having won a silver medal at the All-Africa Games in Algeria early this year.

The most successful wrestler to come out of Namibia is Nicolaas ‘Nico’ Jacobs as he competed in the men’s heavyweight category and claimed a bronze medal in the 96 kg division at the 2003 All-Africa Games in Nigeria, and later became the first Namibian wrestler to compete at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Greece.

Naatele Sem Shilimela was the second Namibian wrestler to compete at the Olympic Games after his appearance at the 2012 Games in London in the 55 kg event.

“The Namibia Wrestling Federation which is responsible for amateurs has a very sound relationship with the ministry. Our ministry has put at the disposal of the federation, the service of a Cuban wrestling expert, Luis Forcelledo Paz, for the last five years.

“The ministry has been funding the participation of amateur wrestling at various continental and international championships,” said Katamba.