For the past nine years, Dr Thato Patlakwe has sat on the ringside. He has seen boxers enter the ring all sprightly and fresh and get out of it either jubilant or bruised and battered and needing a patch up.
As a qualified medical doctor who also specializes in sports medicine, he has tended to the cuts and bruises of boxers leaving the ring.
He was an insider looking from the outside. Ironically, off match days, Patlakwe was an outsider looking from the inside.
During this period, Patlakwe has seen both the highs and lows of Botswana boxing. Just recently, he has seen the usually winning country come home empty handed from continental and international competitions, something which is an anomaly to Botswana boxing.
Still during this period, he has seen the Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA) lose some of its talented boxers to the country’s fledgling professional boxing body.
Unlike in match days when he could wait and patch bruised boxers leaving the ring, this time around, there was little he could do to patch up Botswana’s ailing boxing.
And it is this situation that prompted the ringside doctor to bid for the position of BoBA president, which he won after convincingly out boxing the then BoBA President Michael Moroka at the polls.
“Over the past years, boxing has regressed. Unlike in the past when we used to bring medals from international competitions, the recent competitions have not yielded the desired medals and results. As we saw in recent competitions, including the recent Commonwealth Games, we brought no medals and this is not normal for boxing,” Patlakwe explained.
He said this can largely be attributed to deviation from following proper governance and structures of BoBA by the previous committee, something he promised to change if voted to lead BoBA.
According to the newly elected BoBA President, to address issues of governance, his committee will provide sound leadership which will make proper use of available resources.
Together with his new committee, Patlakwe said they will ensure that matters of good governance are adhered to and followed.
On issues of structures within BoBA, Patlakwe said his committee will seek to capacitate and resuscitate the existing structures and help in the comprehensive development of boxing in the country.
In what is perhaps an emphatic show of confidence in the ringside doctor’s campaign, he garnered 13 votes against Moroka’s six as affiliates endorsed him to heal the local boxing association.
He said one major way to ensure all this is achieved is for the association to follow its strategic plan, which he said has not been properly followed.
The BoBA President said the strategic plan is very comprehensive as it is aligned to that of the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC), adding that following it will ensure boxing improves and reclaims its glory.
“From now going forward, our plan is to target doing well in major competitions. For us to do that, we realize there is need for us to first improve the development of our boxers here as well as the quality of our competitions. Once we achieve this, we will then be able to competitively compete in the international arena,” Patlakwe explained.
As such, he said his executive would seek to bring on board sponsors and partners who can help grow the sport.
To ensure that clubs are not left behind, he said where possible, the new executive will also try hard to help clubs find sponsors.
“We will take all forms of sponsorships, whether it is monetary or in kind. In some instances, we may find that a willing partner can only help with equipment or services and we will gladly take those kinds of sponsorships if they can help us in our endeavors to grow the sport. Apart from this, we will also seek sponsorships for individual boxers to help them grow,” the BoBA President said.
In the long term, Patlakwe said the new executive would also seek to create proper youth and women competitions to ensure proper growth of both the youth and women boxers.
On the issue of boxers leaving BoBA to turn professional, the newly elected president said he is not against professional boxing, but believes this should be done within the International Boxing Association (AIBA) structures.
“AIBA has already established its own professional boxing framework known as the World Boxing Series (WBS). As BoBA, we want our boxers to benefit from their talent and we believe the WBS can help in this regard. Our intentions are that once we have fully functional structures, we will then have boxers competing in this AIBA professional setup. Once we have this setup, only then will we be able to keep our boxers within BoBA structures and able to represent the country while also earning a living from their talent,” he said.
Patlakwe said the intention is for most of these objectives to be achieved within the four years of his term in office.