When the Professional Boxing Association of Botswana (PBAB) was formed more than two years ago, a glimmer of hope was lit among aspiring Batswana professional boxers.
However, ever since then, as the PBAB struggled to gain traction, the little flare flickered and sputtered, to the point of nearly being extinguished.
For over two years, the PBAB struggled to get registered with Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) while local professional local continued to struggle to get a footing into the paid ranks.
Now, that struggle may soon be history, if the words of PBAB secretary general Willoughby Kemoen are anything to go by.
According to Kemoen, negotiations are at an advanced stage for the PBAB to finally register with the BNSC.
“If you remember well, PBAB was formed way back in 2014 and was registered with the Registrar of Societies in 2015. This association was formed after the realisation that our local boxers who were dreaming of turning professional were struggling to get into the paid professional ranks and had to go abroad if they were to realise this dream,” Kemoen explained.
Though there was much hope that the then newly established PBAB would establish quickly to help many young local boxers aspiring to play the sport professionally, this hope proved too immature as they could not register with the BNSC. This hurdle, however, looks likely to be cleared very soon, thus opening the door for the PBAB to register with the BNSC as a member.
“We had a lot of challenges registering with the BNSC as they wanted to know the difference between us and the Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA). They wanted to know if PBAB is not the same thing as BoBA and if we were not just duplicating the latter,” Kemoen explained.
He, however, said after lengthy engagements, and with the help of BoBA, there is some real hope that they will be registered.
“They (BoBA) have been instrumental and have assured the BNSC that PBAB is not duplicating their role and that the new association complements them. With this now cleared, we are optimistic we will soon be registered,” he said.
Kemoen said another hurdle with the BNSC was that, having transformed from a sports council to a sports commission, the BNSC was still trying to incorporate professional sport into its fold. He said this therefore meant professional sports bodies like the PBAB had to wait a little longer to be accorded recognition.
While awaiting their formal registration as members of the BNSC family, Kemoen said they had put in place structures and were ready to hit the ground running once they were approved.
Among their structures are the sanctioning commission, the legal commission and the medical commission.
“The sanctioning commission will be the one that sanctions all professional bouts that involve Batswana, whether they are within or outside the borders of Botswana,” Kemoen explained.
“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.
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 said.
Meanwhile, Kemoen said the PBAB is on the lookout for partners to sponsor professional bouts in the country.
“We have had negotiations with prospective sponsors to come on board and sponsor our sanctioned events. Our plan is that once we get going, we can host at least one competition per month throughout the year,” he explained.
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 could run the PBAB.