Professional boxing continues to show growth in the local scene four years since the new sport code officially became an affiliate of the Botswana National Sports Commission. Leading the charge is the Gaborone based Bond Boxing Stable which held a successful boxing card this past weekend.
The box and dine card featured four professional matches and two amateur bouts. In an interview with Sun Sports this week, prolific boxing promoter, Bond Ngubula said there are signs of growth as local sports enthusiasts are starting to warm up to professional boxing.
“I can say that there is growth as we brought two new sponsors into our event this past weekend. Unfortunately, one of our would be sponsors dropped out at the last moment, leaving us with a deficit,” he said. Ngubula said the numbers were impressive compared to the previous event they held at Boipuso Hall earlier this year.
“There were about 200 seats and almost all of them were filled. Unfortunately, we did not sell many corporate tables compared to our previous event. Nevertheless, not all the seats were paid for, we have stakeholders that require complimentary tickets.
This means about 50 tickets were complimentary,” he said. Quizzed on how his stable acquires sponsorship in the harsh economic climate, Ngubula said it all boils down to how he packages his product. “One of our worst events was held at the Gaborone City Council hall, which turned out to be a poor venue. The event was not of good quality so it did not attract sponsorship.”
Ngubula says since he is a private company, there is no need to consult many people when making decisions and seeking sponsorship. Ngubula argued that the problem of sponsorship drought plaquing many sport codes is that they remain as societies and this has a bearing on how they run their business.
In societies many people need to be consulted and meetings have to be held before a decision is taken. The boxing promoter gave an example of Premier League champions, Township Rollers who have since taken the route of privatization. “It is important to engage sponsors and provide them with maximum mileage.
We keep on engaging our sponsors on all media platforms. We call them whenever we do interviews in the media. The stable also coaches the boxers on self-branding and how to behave in public.”
Ngubula said he was impressed with how his three boxers competed on the night.
Our super bantamweight, Thabiso Mpolokang showed improvement while our event boxers, Tshepiso Mokgadi lost to Zimbabwean rival, Philip Musariri in a very close fight. The next Bond boxing promotion is scheduled for March or April next year.
Local boxers ready for regional tourney
Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA) this past Tuesday officially unveiled a Local Organising Committee (LOC) that has been tasked with preparing for the upcoming Zone 4 championships that are to be held in Botswana.
The team is headed by celebrated boxing legend France Mabiletsa and is expected to host more than seven countries that are expected to descend in Botswana in the next two weeks. Officiating at the event, Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) Vice Chairperson Tsoseletso Magang said that BoBA officials should refrain from interfering with the task given to the LOC. She noted that many sporting codes often give the LOC the responsibility of delivering an event only for the code members to bully themselves into the affairs of the LOC and disrupts the preparations.
Magang warned that there is little time left before the tournament, and with that, the LOC will need all the support to ensure they deliver a successful event. She noted that hosting the regional tournament gave Botswana an upper hand of fielding more athletes that will have an opportunity to qualify for the Africa Championships scheduled for later this year.
For his part, Mabiletsa noted that they have already hit the ground running and confident that the event will be a success. The competition will be hosted in Botho College and they are in talks with Ave Maria to accommodate athletes. “Life will be made much easier for athletes if they are accommodated at Ave Maria because it is closer to the competition venue,” he said.
He explained that the zone is made up of 12 countries of Lesotho, Angola, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe among others. However as of this past Tuesday, only seven had confirmed participation and they expect to finalize the logistics by the end of the week.
Meanwhile, a formidable national boxing team of eight men captained by Mmusie Tswiiige (60kg) and three ladies led by Lethabo Modukanele (48kg) will represent the country at the regional tournament.
According to the Head coach Lechedzani ‘Master’ Luza, the team has been on camp for the past three weeks. In his opinion, the team is ready to compete. “Generally, they are not bad, we need to work on a few things such as power and speed on some boxers, the defence department is also not bad,” he said.
Luza noted that Botswana has always established herself as a powerhouse and there is no doubt that majority, if not all team Botswana members will win a medal during competition time. He explained that the competition was one of the many leading to Tokyo 2020 Olympics and will give local boxers an opportunity to qualify for the Olympics.
Branch does it again
Local motorcycle racing sensation Ross Branch has continued his stellar form after securing overall second position in the internationally renowned Merzouga Rally. The race came to a conclusion this past weekend and Branch has proven his mettle amongst some of the best rally motorcyclists in the world.
The podium finish is expected to take the Dakar Rally racer to even greater heights in the hugely competitive and expensive sport. It has been barely two months since the talented local rider emerged as a top class racer at the Dakar Rally where he finished 13 and walked away with the fastest rookie of the 10 000 km odyssey.
At Merzouga, things seemed a little better for the rider as the terrain offer sand and rock as opposed to the treacherous dunes in Dakar. Branch who was using a different navigation system in Morocco showed his pace after winning the fourth stage of the race last week Thursday.
Prior to his podium finish Branch said Merzouga was only his second rally and he was willing to learn from some of the top riders in the sport. The KTM 450cc rider said he was now setting his sights on other major races including the 2020 Dakar Rally that has been confirmed for Saudi Arabia.
Since returning from the Dakar, Ross has stayed busy and competed at the cross-country championship in Kwazulu Natal in South Africa, where he finished fourth. The local rider is expected to compete at the upcoming 1000 km Toyota Desert Race, an event he has won more than seven times.
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