By Jerry Asiegbu
National boxingÂ Â coach, Obisia Nwankpa, has attributed the failure of Nigeria in amateur boxing in recent times to lack of international exposure. He said that for Nigeria to bounce back to her winning ways in boxing there must be a conscious effort on the part of the Nigerian Boxing Federation, NBF, to organise foreign training tours and competitions to expose our young talents.
The former Commonwealth and Africa gold medalist spoke to Sports Vanguard yesterday after their training session at the National Stadium, in Surulere, Lagos.
Nwankpa, who was one of the boxing coaches at the last Olympics in Beijing, China, decried a situation where they had to travel straight to Beijing from their training base in Benin, Edo State, without giving the boys the necessary international exposure needed for them to face their opponents. â€œIt is unfortunate that we headed straight to Beijing from Benin,â€ he lamented.
Nwankpa who was a quarter-finalist at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany, in the superlight weight category stated that boxing facilities have not improved in Nigeria since his days, but praised the boxing body of his time, the Nigeria Amateur Boxing Board, NABA, for having a programme in place which ensured that boxers were taken outside Nigeria constantly for training and contests which gave them the needed exposure.
I appeal to the newly inaugurated board of NBF to take this as a challenge to provide the facilities as well as organise overseas training for our boxers. It is shameful that what we have here in our training gym is only the punching bagâ€, he said.
Obisia Nwankpa, who rose in his professional career to be the World Boxing Council, WBC, number one contender in the superlight weight category for two years,1980-1981, said boxers of his time were stronger than the present crop of boxers that we have. He called on corporate organisations to complement the efforts of government in sports as government alone cannot do it.
He appealed for a change of attitude among sports administrators in Nigeria who promote politics, self interest and tribalism instead of merit, excellence and development of sports.