Ever since most local boxers turned professional, there have been ululations in the boxing fraternity because most of them had never lost a bout, especially against their South African counterparts, a country that is seen as a haven of professional boxing in Africa.
Of the past three professional boxing tournaments held in Botswana, South African boxers had a tough time. Things started at Phakalane Golf Estate in 2005 when four Batswana boxers, Lesley Sekotswe, Dintwa Sloca, Seroba Binda and Moses Kamera, made their professional debut. Sekotswe and Binda started with a bang, as they won their fights via technical knockouts. At the second tournament that was also held at Phakalane last year, local boxers once again triumphed.
The third tournament, held at the Cresta Lodge last weekend, was no exception and saw Binda once again win via a TKO while others, like Kamera, Sloca and debutant Peter Pelane once again easily pummeled their opponents.
The walkover by local boxers over the South Africans has resulted in some people questioning the credibility of the South African boxers who are invited here for professional tournaments. Some Batswana wonder whether local boxers are too strong for the South Africans or if really the South Africans are just not good enough.
One of the leading promoters of professional boxing tournaments in Botswana and former boxer himself, Thuso Khubamang, defended the South Africans saying they are good and it is just that the locals are too strong. He said Botswana has very strong amateur boxing ranks and once boxers join the professional circuit, they find it easier. Khubamang said that the triumph by local boxers is good news because they are compiling their professional records, which will benefit them in the long run.
?Currently we have a very strong boxer from Botswana, Kgotla Baeti, who is riding the crest of a wave and making a name for himself in South Africa. When he started, he did not start by fighting against experienced boxers and that helped him to build his record and even boast his confidence. As I am talking to you now, he has not lost a single bout of the twelve he has fought since turning professional. For that matter, he has won eleven of his bouts via TKO and we want other local boxers to follow the same route,? he said.
Khubamang also said they could be bringing more experienced professional boxers, but the problem is the lack of funds. He said renowned professional boxers demand a lot of money for appearances and Botswana is yet to be able to pay high purses. He, however, added that once the corporate sector starts to help them then more tournaments would be staged and internationally renowned boxers could also be invited.
Khubamang also said in future they would try to invite more boxers from Namibia because it has also just introduced professional boxing and it is progressing very well.
On the other hand, many Batswana seem not to understand professional boxing because the past professional bouts were poorly attended. Khubamang said he is optimistic that in future people would start watching the tournaments in their numbers as is the case in South Africa.
The other hurdle for local professional boxing is that there is no professional body and Botswana has to always rely on South Africa. The process is long and could be strenuous because whatever move local organisers make, South Africans have to be consulted.
It looks like the Parliament of Botswana will take time to adopt an act that would professionalise sports in this country. Once passed, it would be much easier for promoters to stage fights.
Khubamang has vowed to fight to stage more bouts and said that there are many excellent boxers in the country who could make a fortune by joining well paying professional ranks outside the country.