Sports’ Watch –  When Surulere Hosted Nigerian Boxers By Ayo Olanipekun

by admin | June 28, 2017 9:50 pm

David Izonritie

Recently Surulere, the sports city hosted boxers from all over Nigeria, but this only exposed the state of boxing in the Country.

Boxing as a sport that has brought immense glory to Nigeria is presently being poorly run.

Aside from the poor financial input by the sports ministry, the technical input and training of boxers has been put into question. According to a boxing pundit: “It is unfortunate that boxing, a sport that has brought a lot of glory to Nigeria, has lost its place of pride.” He continued: “The National Sports Commission has been paying lip service to the sport. Under the late Group Captain Brai Ayonote, the sport grew in leaps and bounds, but under the leadership of General Minimah (Rtd) things are no longer working.

On the technical aspect, he is of the belief that square pegs are in round holes. Most of the boxers we spoke to are not happy with the technical crew led by Coach Henry Konyegwashi.

Regarding the national open boxing championship, the National Sports Commission had no financial input and states were taxed to organize the event. The event itself was shabby in organization and only a handful of states in the country – Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Delta, Abia, Enugu, Imo and Rivers – participated.

The fighters engaged themselves from daylight to the wee hours of the night. Some of them, it was gathered, paid their own way to the championship. The venue, Brai Ayonote Boxing Gym, was ill equipped for such an event.

Sad to say, Nigeria, a member of the Amateur International Boxing Association, has no representative in the association. Most appalling is the fact that officials were paid N2,000 as allowance for feeding and officiating by the Boxing Board of Control, while Lagos State paid N10,000 to all officials and participants.

Pundits summated that the championship itself should not have been organized when the National Sports Commission was not ready.

Most people on the boxing circuit posited that, even with the grassroots’ drive to bring boxing to its old glory days, parents are not encouraged to allow their wards partake in the sport that produced the likes of 1992 dynamic medallists, Richard Ibenegbu and David Izonritie.

The sports ministry and the National Sports Commission must make concerted efforts to grow the sport, while taking adequate steps to expose boxers to international competitions.

Another part of the stadium in need of attention is the boxing gymnasium at the Brai Ayonote Boxing Complex. The gym, which recently hosted the National Open Boxing Championships, is in a state of disrepair. Our correspondent, who visited the gym, observed that the wooden floor, is in dilapidated state and needs urgent renovation. The roof of the gym is damaged, thus making the complex flooded anytime it rained, while leaking the asbestos used for the roof have become weak as well. The lighting in gym is also in a poor state, with some of the fluorescent lamps were faulty. During the national boxing championships in February, only a part of the gym, where the ring was located, was lighted while the other parts were left in darkness. Emergency lights were used to light up the dark places.

The Punch: Retelling the story of Lagos National Stadium, 12 April 2017

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