Friday, September 24, 2021

Botswana aims to host WBO, WBA boxing tourneys

“This is the start of great things for boxing,” Professional Boxing Association of Botswana (PBAB) president Tsietsi Shakes Kebualemang declared post Friday’s historic title match at Gaborone International Conference Centre (GICC).

The PBAB president’s confident declaration, though very optimistic, was not misplaced.

While Botswana has witnessed the advent of more professional fights over the past three years, Friday’s event was probably the most iconic.

Today, the blue nation stands proud knowing it now has the confidence of the world it can host top class boxing events, hence today we have our very own professional boxing champion.

Before the fight between Onkarabile ‘Skara’ Mothibedi and Tshepang ‘Gearbox’ Babui for the super Bantamweight title belt this past Friday, World Professional Boxing Federation (WBF)  already scheduled for three more title fights to take place in this land.

After witnessing the organization of the recent past match, WBF president Howard Goldberg said the country was ready to finally come out of the shadows.

While he pointed out that one or two things need to be improved, he however declared his happiness with how it was well organized. 

He highlighted that PBAB is on the right track to grow and nurture pro boxing.

“There are a lot of good boxers in Botswana,” the WBF president declared when asked whether the country is ready to host more professional title events.

He however went on to point that administratively, there was a lot that needed to be done.

“Referees for example need to undergo a lot of training as I noticed that some were good and some where not good. But we do understand that they do not have the opportunity to ref so much,” said Goldberg. 

He however pointed out that they will help professional boxing in Botswana to grow and flourish.

Like many of the sporting codes whose focus is on grassroots development, Goldberg said they are taking the direction to grow and groom professional boxing from grassroots.

Eventually they will start to lift the standards of not only the fighters, but the management, administration, official, corner-man and every day involved in the sport.

Even though they as WBF, they only come to sanction a fight, he also urges sponsors to come on board including the government to help grow this sport.

“Sponsors are very important in sport, and they contribute greatly to the outcome of it. As WBF we urge mostly the government to sponsor and help sport flourish,” he said. 

For Kebualemang and his PBAB executive committee, Goldberg’s words came as a boost as they seek to host more pro boxing events.

The PBAB president said that they are proud as an association to have been given a chance to prove themselves and show that they have the potential to host.

“We have potential boxers here in Botswana and believe me when I say many title belt fights are coming to Botswana,” a delighted Kebualemang declared.

“If it was not for this COVID-19 pandemic, we could have registered and organized a lot of fights,” he added.

Ever an optimist, Kebualemang said they now look to attract various world boxing organisations to bring title fights to Botswana.

“We have now taken WBF, now we are aiming at World Boxing Organisation (WBO) and World Boxing Association (WBA)” he said.

In an overview of the event, he continued to point that the event was a success and because of that WBF has surely gained more confidence in hosting other title belt fights.

Kebualemang also pointed out that sponsors are happy with what they witnessed and declared that this is just the beginning for pro boxing.

Thuso Khubamang, organizer of the fight from Scud Missile Promotions pointed out that they are happy to have been the first Botswana to host such a high-class fight.

He said their aim is to ensure that as many young talented local boxers, not just Mothibedi and Babui, can benefit from boxing.

“Our focus is to help the youth of this country to make a living out of what they know best using their talents,” he said.

Khubamang heaped more plaudits on sponsors, without who, he said, the event could not have happened.

“Most of the sponsors we had for this fight are new and we did not think they would come on board to assist us,” he said.

“We are happy with their support and we hope they continue with the support,” he added.

As they now prepare for the next title belt fight in May, Khubamang said he believes more sponsors will come on board to help grow the sport and take it to the rightful people.

He added that the sponsors they had for the super Bantamweight title belt fight are happy as well and he hopes they will still be around for the other three title belts that are coming next year.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper