Had it not been for the hostile conditions in Algeria, at the just ended All Africa Games, Botswana boxers could have done better. This is according to publicity Secretary of the Botswana Amateur Boxing Association, Willough Kemoen. Kemoen said there was a tendency by the Francophone countries at the games to do away with the ones from English speaking countries in any manner they could use.
“It was terrible at the All Africa Games and those French countries were very hostile. They did all what they could no matter it was immoral to put their boxers in pole positions to win. In the halls, where the bouts took place, there was no order at all. Once the local and visiting fans realised their boxers were losing out they pulled up the chairs and threw them everywhere. What even surprised me the most was that even the officials of those countries condoned such behaviour,” he said.
Kemoen also added that an Algerian coach even spat at a local referee, Michael Moroka, after his boxer lost in a game in which Moroka officiated. Kemoeng also said Herbert Nkabite’s road to the finals, in which he lost to a Zambian, was not a smooth sailing one. The fight he recalls well was also against an Algerian boxer in the semi-finals which Nkabite won convincingly. Kemoen said after Nkabite won the fight 22-16, the Algerian fighter went to the extent of kicking the score boards and even the judges. According to Kemoen, the boxer ended up being banned for life from amateur boxing after a heavy protest from most English speaking countries.
Kemoen also lamented the knockout of Thato Batshegi and Koolopile Gabaikanngwe in the earlier stages of the competition. He said the duo were the most hard done because the decision taken against them by the judges were harrowing.
“The loss of Batshegi and Gabaikangwe left mostly many Southern African countries stunned. Our guys went to the extent of leading their fights up to the last stages of the final rounds only for their opponents, who were from Mali and Algeria, to be declared winners. We asked ourselves where the extra points came from,” Kemoen said.
Kemoen emphasised that most English speaking countries ended up meeting some senior officials, including the President of Amateur International Boxing Association, to express their concerns.
Nevertheless, Kemoen said the local boxers did well at the games compared to the previous games. He said it was for the first time that a local boxer brought a silver medal. Kemoen also said despite bringing only two medals, local boxers also surpassed all Southern African countries at the games. Kemoen said most countries won a single medal while others won nothing at all.
Kemoen said now their focus has turned to the World championship Games that will be held in Chicago, USA, in November. He said their intention is to send three boxers but they still have to sit down as an association and map the way forward. He also said their other focus is the Olympic Games that will be held in China next year. Kemoen said most local boxers are itching to qualify because the All Africa Games were not a passage to the Olympics.