National amateur boxing is set to get off in a big way after close to 140 coaches qualified for the international courses during the Year of Africa ( YoA) programme currently underway in Mdantsane.
The programme, initiated by International Amateur Boxing Association (Aiba), is the first of its kind in the world and is set to revolutionise boxing on the continent.
It is part of the mission by Aiba to boost boxing development in the continent after its boxers performed dismally in international championships such as the world amateur games as well as the Olympics.
It kick-started in Togo and moved down to the country, specifically East London where enthusiasm reached fever pitch during coaching sessions at Gcobani Primary School in NU 8 Mdantsane.
Accompanied by a mobile boxing ring towed by a truck, the programme was able to boost the qualification of 39 coaches in Aiba star level one.
Running the courses some of which are designed for trainers, is Sri Lankan instructor Indrasena Rubasigha who was overawed by the interest displayed by his students.
“I have been immensely impressed by the level of interest shown by the trainers and coaches here,” he said.
After a week-long session where various aspects of amateur boxing [now called open boxing] were covered with emphasis being at the technical empowerment of boxers, the truck left for Zambia for the next leg of YoA.
SA National Amateur Boxing Organisation (Sanabo) president Andile Mofu is ecstatic about what the programme has been able to deliver.
“I do not care if I am blowing my horn but I think this programme has been a tremendous success,” he said.
“We achieved about 96% of our target and the Aiba guys are over the moon. I was called by the head office from Luasanne where SA was congratulated for hosting such a successful programme.”
While some of Aiba officials have left, the programme is continuing for the next two weeks culminating in the national elite championships to be held at Mdantsane Indoor Centre.
Rubasigha will now move to star level coaching with many of his students expected to come from countries such as Botswana, Uganda, Lesotho, Swaziland and Malawi.
The representatives are expected to arrive this weekend with the courses starting on Monday.
The Sri Lankan who qualified as Aiba instructor with Mofu in Italy in 2004 is delighted to reunite with his former course mate and to impart his knowledge to his officials.
“Andile and I have come a long way since we were qualified as instructors together in Italy,’ he said.
“So it is my pleasure to actually come to his country and help his officials to boost their qualification.”
The former Sri Lankan national team boxing coach admitted that his country was also struggling to make an impact in major championships due to the fierce competition in the Asian region where power countries such as Khazaskhstan often rule supreme.
“For instance, we last qualified for the Olympics in 2008 in Beijing and ever since then we were unable to secure a berth in London and Rio.”
Mofu said the results of the programme may start to bear fruit as early as next year’s Commonwealth Games