In May this year, the local boxing fraternity elected a new executive committee to run Rwanda Boxing Association for the next two years; four months down the road, nothing tangible has been done hence causing concerns by top boxers and trainers.
The concerned, mostly, the boxers, who have the best interest of the sport at heart, feel the new committee should start to act and prove they mean what they preach.
Over the past two years, boxing in Rwanda has been a ship with no compass as the leadership of Rwanda Amateur Boxing Association (RABA) has been embroiled in internal wrangles.
The association failed to attract funding from the Ministry of Culture and Sports (MINISPOC) and other potential sponsors, and as a result failed to organize any single championship last year.
In May this year, the association appointed a new committee for a four-year term headed by former national team boxer Vick Kalisa to revive the sport.
In an exclusive interview, Kalisa promised that, “This is a new era and we are determined to make amends and build a concrete system that will ignite growth and advancement of boxing in Rwanda.”
The association had suffered divisions caused by power struggle, which led to break-away factions.
Breathe life in boxing
Lightweight (60kg) boxer Jean Pierre Cyiza, who last fought at the 2014 African Youth Games held in Gaborone, Botswana and won the nation’s first bronze, thinks action needs to be taken if they’re to revive the sport in the country.
Cyiza acknowledges that, lack of local competitions, a national championship, coupled with the absence of any tangible activities being done by the sport’s local governing body, all talk of reviving boxing in Rwanda, will only remain a dream.
“The new committee needs to work fast and harder to breathe life into boxing. RABA needs to open up a new era sooner rather than later, and most importantly unite a divided local boxing community,” Cyiza told Times Sport.
Cyiza believes the new committee needs to re-introduce local competitions on top of implementing the promised ‘Blueprint’, insisting that, “They need to start putting their words into action.”
Other boxers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, accuse the new leadership of failing to act practically, as well as the failure to initiate the promised new amendments that were proposed to end the dry spell for boxers who have been out of the ring for years.
One of them said, “The new committee assured us that they’re opening a new chapter, promising to re-energize the sport that has left orphaned but astonishingly, nothing is happening. We are worried, we doubt if they can end what is more than a two year impasse in leadership.”
Charles Muvunyi, the co-founder and coach of Kigali Life Boxing Club told Sunday Sport that, “Last weekend, we met with the new committee and they promised that everything will be sorted out before the end of this month, so we’re waiting to see whether that comes to pass.”
Muvunyi just like the other boxers, believes now that the new committee accepted to take charge of RABA, then they should not just sit but instead should act.
He asserts that: “As clubs and boxers, we will not give up with our own training programs, as we continue to wait for its empty promises. They’ve asked us to wait for them to legalize the boxing federation.”
For lacking legal status, the Ministry of Sports and Culture together with Rwanda National Olympic and Sports Committee (RNOSC) do not support the boxing federation.
Since 2014, RABA was pressed to obtain legal status so that they can operate legally, however the body is still struggling to do that.
And since the beginning of this year, it came to light that what used to be the RABA office at Amahoro National Stadium is still closed, empty and full of dust.
As the mystery continues, RABA vice president Maurice Bikorimana downplayed the boxers’ fears, instead blaming the clubs for the delays in acquiring status.
“The reason the federation is struggling to attain legal status is because of some clubs that have taken long to register with Rwanda Governance Board (RGB), hopefully before September or October RABA will be legalized,” promised the former national champion.
Until the new committee gets legal status, boxers are not sure of what RABA is up to as they continue to become more and more impatient.