By Jerry Asiegbu
Former World Boxing Organisation, WBO, heavyweight champion, Nigeriaâ€™s Henry Akinwande, has said that Olympic champions are not made over-night, but through a deliberate and sustained programme of action over time. He made the assertion against the backdrop of preparation for the National Junior Boxing Championship which kicks off this morning at the boxing gym of the National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos.
Akinwande, who was a former Commonwealth heavyweight champion said the build up to the championship was not adequate to produce world beaters. He emphasised the need for adequate preparation which would involve holding many championships and giving the boxers overseas training and exposure.
This, he said, would expose them to the modern techniques of the sport. He decried the absence of facilities in Nigeria especially the electronic scoring machine, which would help them to know where to hit to score points. The Atlanta, Georgia-based Akinwande refused to blame Nigerian boxers for their poor showing in international meets in recent time because â€œnobody cares for them as those at the helm of affairs are lack the foresightâ€.
The Lagos State amateur boxing chairman said time has come to â€œput the right people in the right place to run the sport and achieve positive resultsâ€.
Akinwande, who represented Great Britain at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, in the heavyweight category but was eliminated in the quarter-final by Netherland’s Arnold Vanderlyde by points, pledged to continue to fight the cause of the sport.
He said he has initiated a grassroots boxing outfit based in Alagbado Lagos from where he hopes to extend to other areas of Lagos. The outfit according to him is manned by former Ghanaian boxer, Joe Mensah.. The Ogun State-born boxer said he organises four boxing competitions monthly in Lagos with the Saturday Boxing Life which comes up every last Saturday of the month.
The National Junior Boxing Championship is being organised by the Nigeria Amateur Boxing Association, NABA, to select boxers who will represent Nigeria at the Youth Olympics holding in Baku, Azerbaijan, between April 20-May 2nd this year. The selected boxers from this championship will proceed to Singapore for an international meet before going to Azerbaijan.