Wednesday, February 21, 2024
SportChampioning boxing's revival in Africa

Championing boxing’s revival in Africa

Revival top priority as Eyasu takes swing at top job

The African Boxing Confederation (AFBC) has picked Addis Ababa as the distinguished host city for their highly anticipated Extraordinary Congress, set to take place on November 18, 2023. Ethiopia’s bid prevailed unanimously after an exhaustive evaluation of potential contenders.

Eyasu Wessen, the president of Ethiopia’s Boxing Federation (EBF), boldly steps into the ring, aiming to become the first Ethiopian to assume the prestigious role of AFBC president. However, Eyasu faces formidable adversaries hailing from Uganda, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Morocco, all vying for the esteemed position.

In anticipation of this momentous event, Dawit Tolesa from The Reporter sat with Eyasu, to dive deep into the intricacies surrounding the forthcoming AFBC Extraordinary Congress. EXCERPTS:

The Reporter: What is the current status of the election preparation and process at this pivotal juncture?

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Eyasu Wessen: Well, we announced our entry into the election several months ago during a program held at the Sheraton Hotel. We had to assemble a campaign team to participate in the election, which includes professionals who can speak various languages.

The campaign group commenced various activities in Addis Ababa, aiming to identify the voting participants’ familiarity with the presidential candidate’s background.

The election process is expected to be exceptionally challenging and intricate. Furthermore, there are certain individuals interfering between the International Boxing Federation (IBA) and the African Boxing Federation (AFBC).

So, each stage necessitates its own set of precautions. Despite the arduous and obstacle-ridden nature of the process, we are approaching it with utmost care.

Beyond your role as a candidate in the election, you have orchestrated the organization of an extraordinary congress in Ethiopia. What unique advantages does Ethiopia stand to gain by hosting this momentous event?

Ethiopia has been granted the opportunity to host the elections in Addis Ababa for the first time, which is a great opportunity. This presents a favorable prospect as it not only generates substantial financial resources but also holds the potential for Ethiopia to receive extensive support from the International Boxing Confederation if an Ethiopian candidate emerges victorious.

If the Federation can secure land from the government, the International Boxing Association (IBA) can construct a dedicated stadium, enabling the development and expansion of boxing. So, if elected, the African Boxing Federation’s headquarters will be established in Ethiopia, offering numerous employment opportunities to residents.

A multitude of tournaments will also be organized. Moreover, we have several projects in mind that we aim to execute.

Yedankachew Tesema was the sole individual in Africa who successfully led in sports, assuming the presidency of the Confederation of African Football (CAF). Following in Yedankachew’s footsteps, if I am elected, I would become the second Ethiopian to hold the presidency of the African Boxing Confederation, marking a significant achievement.

The upcoming election is anticipated to be fiercely competitive. Could you provide insights into your fellow candidates?

Uganda, Morocco, and Cameroon have put forward candidates for the election, making the competition more challenging. However, we have devised an innovative plan to elevate African boxing to a higher level. Uganda and Nigeria have willingly dropped out of the race.

We have identified several key objectives that we aim to accomplish.

Firstly, we intend to revive the boxing culture that thrived in every village four decades ago. During that time, numerous clubs were active, and frequent competitions were held. Unfortunately, over the past 40 years, the boxing movement has experienced a decline across Africa.

It can be argued that the funding allocated by the International Boxing Association has not been utilized effectively. We have a significant amount of work ahead of us to revitalize and transform the sport.

Can you please share the precise points and specific details of your election manifesto?

As a presidential candidate, my utmost dedication lies in the transformation of the AFBC into a vibrant and responsible organization, dedicated to the advancement and progress of boxing in Africa.

My fundamental mission revolves around bolstering financial capabilities, empowering African boxing federations, and uplifting underperforming federations. Additionally, combating corruption and expanding boxing competitions across continents are key areas of focus.

I will tirelessly strive to enhance the frequency and variety of boxing competitions throughout the continent, catering to diverse skill levels and ensuring consistent opportunities for boxers to exhibit their talent.

Given the existing dearth of boxing competitions and limited avenues for professional development in Africa, what are your objectives to address this matter?

Revitalizing amateur and junior boxing stands as one of our primary objectives.

We aim to breathe new life into amateur and junior boxing titles, reminiscent of their prominence nearly two decades ago. To kickstart this renaissance, Ethiopia will proudly host the inaugural championship, and I will personally contribute to its funding.

In order to foster enthusiasm and engagement within the boxing community, we will introduce fresh competition formats, including national championships for boxing clubs and an African boxing championship. Furthermore, comprehensive training programs will be implemented to enhance the skills and expertise of referees, coaches, and all other professionals involved in the sport.

In addition to continental boxing activities, what strategies do you have in mind to foster collaboration with the International Olympic Committee?

Our foremost priority is the enhancement of Olympic quotas.

I will fervently pursue initiatives aimed at expanding the number of quotas allotted by the IOC for boxing in the Olympic Games, thereby facilitating greater participation of African boxers on the global platform. Simultaneously, we will work towards resolving the ongoing dispute between the IBA and the IOC.

By fostering partnerships with these organizations and others, we strive to restore harmonious relations and promote the advancement of the sport on a global scale.

What does the form of government support entail or encompass?

We have garnered monitoring and support from diverse entities, including Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD), Ethiopian Airlines, and other stakeholders who are actively endorsing and collaborating with us.

The election date – November 18, 2023 – has been officially confirmed, representing a momentous opportunity for Ethiopia.

It is imperative for the government to engage in collaborative efforts with all stakeholders and ensure a hospitable environment for guests throughout the extraordinary congress.

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Video from Enat Bank Youtube Channel.

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