BY ORATILE OTSETSWE
The allure of fame and a chance to eke out a living out of professional boxing is proving too much for local amateurs, both retired and active.
Following the advancement of pro boxing, some amateur boxers who had hung their gloves have now dusted them off and are willing to trade leather again while a number of active amateurs have turned professional.
Among those amateurs who had quit the sport for good but have now returned, though to professional ranks, are Kagiso Bagwasi and lately Bashi Motlhane, formerly of Prisons Boxing Club.
While the latter had quit the sport of his own accord, Bagwasi on the other hand had quit after he attained serious arm injuries when he was attacked and stabbed by ‘would be robbers.’
Bagwasi has since returned to boxing, albeit as a professional and has already fought and won three bouts, while Motlhane, who has recently signed for Melroy Boxing Promotions, is yet to get a pro bout.
Commenting on his decision to quit boxing, only to return to join professional ranks, Motlhane said he sees pro boxing as a chance to grow, something he believed he could not attain in amateur ranks. He said fighting in the amateur ranks, he quit as he felt amateur boxing was not competitive enough for him and there was no money for the fights.
Motlhane said he has started training last week and he is ready to face any opponent that he will be paired with in an international tournament slated for 22nd February 2019. Reached for comment, Motlhane’s trainer at Melroy Boxing Promotions, Larona Francis, said the common reason for athletes to move from amateur to pro is for development purposes, thus growing up into high level of boxing as a sport. He said the other reason is that boxers are well taken care and paid for every time they perform their bouts.
Francis revealed that “often boxers who turn professional think pro boxing is the same as amateur and end up being unsatisfied with their progress. It is very important for everyone, boxer, trainer, manager to appreciate well the differences and the change of science between the two.”
On his latest signing of Motlhane, Francis said “Motlhane is one of the best light weight division boxers in the country. He is a rare breed of southpaw boxers, versatile and power punching boxer. His personality is of a real champion outside the ring, very interactive and these will do us an easy job when branding him.”
He further added that Melroy is in a reconstruction process therefore the club is allowed to sign at least three new talented young boxers who they will unveil early next year. Perhaps with the realisation that the allure of pro boxing may prove too much, some stables like DRAD Boxing Club have resorted to training both amateur and professionals. The decisions paves a seamless way for those amateurs within the stable seeking to go professional while also helping it retain its best talent.
According to DRAD Coach Thabang Motsewabeng, his stable already has five former amateur boxers who have turned professional. They comprise of Kagiso and Kabelo Bagwasi, Kutlwano Ogaketse, Moabi Ngaka and Olefile Chapo.
“The five pugilists who went professional were very good amateur boxers who had perfomed better as they fought in many bouts. Their experience polished their skills to have the potential to fight at a professional level and made them the best at amateur to produce better records for them,” Motsewabeng explained.