Saturday, October 24, 2020

Can PBAB bridge the gap to professional boxing?

Over the past decade, clutches of Botswana boxers have crossed the borders in pursuit of professionalism, all with limited success. The boxers, included among others, Thuso Scud Khubamang, who went to United States of America, as well as the trio of Kgotla Baeti, Leslie Sekotswe and Herbert Nkabiti, who crossed the border into neighbouring South Africa.

Aside from fighting under card bouts, almost all the local boxers never had a fair shot at the international titles. Where the likes of Baeti were fortunate enough to have such a shot, they found it difficult to solicit local sponsors for them to host their bouts. While the boxers they had fought against from neighbouring countries managed to turn professional, for the locals, this was a dream too far to reach. Despite the existence of the Local Controlling Body (LCB), which was supposed to protect the interests of local boxers turning professional, this was never to be.

Boasting former Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA) administrators among its ranks, PBAB is optimistic it can bridge the gap preventing local amateur boxers from making the professional ranks and go where the LCB failed to go. The new association, which takes over from the now defunct LCB, held its first Annual General Meeting (AGM) yesterday morning (Saturday). Among issues discussed at the association’s inaugural AGM were issues relating to licensing of boxers, referees, judges and all other stakeholders related to boxing.  Speaking in an interview, PBAB Executive Secretary Willoughby Kemoen said the purpose of the new professional body was to ‘safeguard professional boxing in the country and care for the welfare of boxers who are turning professional.’

“We want to give platform to all amateur boxers who want to make a living out of their passion, boxing. As the only professional boxing body, we will have the sole rights to sanction any professional boxing events involving local boxers,” the PBAB Executive Secretary explained. Having witnessed the LCB struggle for more than three decades to help local boxers make a living from their skill, Kemoeng said they felt that the board was obsolete hence it had to make a way for a new robust body that will ‘push the envelope’ and pave way for boxers to earn a living through their skill. To ensure the success of the new body, Kemoeng said they benchmarked from the best regional professional bodies from countries like South Africa, Tanzania and Namibia, among others, to see how best they can run the PBAB.

As the sole body that will oversee professional boxing, Kemoeng said they will sanction local boxers whether they are competing within or outside the borders of Botswana. “All monies paid to boxers will have to pass through the PBAB before the sanctioned bouts can take place. Once the bouts have taken place, it will be the PBAB which will pay the boxers,” Kemoeng explained. He said the new body will also be hands on in finding partners to sponsor professional bouts in the country. “We are currently in negotiations with prospective sponsors to come on board and sponsor our sanctioned events. Our plan is to have at least one competition per month throughout the year,” the PBAB Executive Secretary explained.

As part of the processes to ensure local boxers have a shot at world and continental titles, Kemoeng said the PBAB is busy trying to affiliate to international boxing bodies, both world and continental. “We are currently trying to affiliate to bodies like the International Boxing Federation (IBF) Africa, the World Boxing Federation (WBF), World Boxing Association (WBA) and the World Boxing Council (WBF) to ensure our boxers can easily compete,” he concluded. 

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