Women boxers matched their male counterparts bout for bout during the recent national championships, chalking a milestone in the development of women’s boxing in Botswana.
The moment of symbolic significance was not lost on national boxing team head coach, Khumiso Ikgopoleng who has expressed delight at the development of women’s boxing in the country. In the aftermath of national championships that saw local ladies fight in eight bouts across various weight categories, the same number of bouts as in the men’s category, Ikgopoleng is happy that women’s boxing has grown in leaps and bouts since its introduction locally. The women’s boxing debuted in the National Championships this past year, so the increase in the number of bouts was a giant leap in a short time.
Speaking in an interview, Ikgopoleng said he was even more impressed with the technical and tactical awareness of the ladies during the national championships. Among those who caught the eye of the national team coach were the Kgalagadi North Boxing Club quartet youngsters of Joyce Katlholo, Koketso Dipogiso, Emely Tshoswane and Orapeleng Ketshametsi. Ikgopoleng said one of the most impressive aspects of the women boxers was the aggression and tactical awareness they showed in the ring, something which he attributed to good development. According to the coach, unlike local boxing women pioneers in the likes of Pearl Morake who learnt the sport late in life, the quartet, as with a lot of others coming through are products of grassroots development under the Botswana Boxing Association (BOBA).
Ikgopoleng attributed the development to teacher coaches posted in various schools as well as various BOBA affiliated clubs who have embraced the idea of women boxing. “We have encouraged our clubs to work in tandem with schools, whereby clubs take the student boxers under their wings. In situations where we have school boxing clubs but no community clubs in an area, we consult with clubs nearer to the area to take the students into their care,” Ikgopoleng said. With the 2nd Africa Youth Games to be hosted here in Gaborone in May next year in the horizon and BOBA hoping to have women boxers in the mix, the national team head coach said BOBA has also arranged frequent youth camps, from which the young women boxers are benefiting. Should things go BOBA’s way and many bouts be allowed for women’s boxing during the African Youth Games, Ikgopoleng said the country will be represented across all the categories. He said at the moment, the association has many young female boxers whom they are looking at with an eye for the AYG as well as beyond for the Olympics and other international games.