By Ben Efe
Former Nigerian amateur boxing great, Isaac Ikhouria has called for a total overhaul of amateur boxing administration if the dwindling fortunes of Nigerian amateur boxing are to be reversed.
Ikhouria, who is the second Nigerian boxer to win an Olympic medal, a bronze at the 1972 Olympics, lamented that boxing slipped into its moribund position currently, because successive boards of the Nigerian Boxing Federation failed to sustain the programmes and activities that produced seasoned boxers for the country in the past.
â€œIn all the nooks and crannies of this country, there are talents, the problem is administration. There are no competitions and progammes that will throw up boxers. â€œEven the National Sports Commission is not helping matters. Their concentration is on football, forgetting that boxing has a lot of potentials both at the amateur and professional levels,â€ said the Edo-born boxing afficionado.
Ikhouria said that the sport must have to be revived, because there are talents in the country waiting to be discovered and groomed to be world champions. And according to him this is why he has thrown his weight behind â€˜Gloves for Gold 2012â€™ , a private initiative aimed at producing boxers that can win laurels for Nigeria at the 2012 Olympics in London and beyond.
â€œGloves for Gold 2012 is a well thought programme. It is geared towards producing boxing that will win gold at the 2012 Olympics and beyond.
â€œIt is not going to be like what we are used to. Sponsors will be happy to support the sport when they see that funds are well utilised.
â€œGloves for Gold 2012 is not going to be like a drain pipe. It is a programme that will produce a lot of boxing talents for this country, we have not been doing enough to produce boxers in this country and this is what we are trying to achieve with this initiative,â€ Ikhouria said.
Ikhouria, after winning bronze, coached Nigerian boxers to four Olympic Games. Boxers such as Peter Konyegwachi who won silver at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angelos, David Izonritei and Richard Igbineghu who won silver at the 1992 Games and Duncan Dokiwari who also won bronze at the Atlanta 96 Games all passed through Ikhouria. After his exit Nigeria has not been able to produce quality boxers.
Coordinator of the â€˜Gloves for Goldâ€™, Henry Zini, a tested amateur boxer, said that the programme is not just to produce boxers for the Olympics Games in London, but to return Nigeria to the glory days in boxing.|
â€œNigeria is a big name in boxing, we have produced world champions in the past. Our professional boxing is dead today because we are not producing amateur boxers anymore. When we have quality amateurs, our professional boxing will thrive.
â€œWith the programme, we are going to make young boxers hunger for the sport. We are going to provide them with kits and stipends,â€ he said.