The current state of local boxing is raising concerns to the extent that some stakeholders have requested for the intervention of the Ministry of Sports and Culture as well as the National Olympic and Sports Committee to save the sport from ‘extinction’.
The calls for immediate intervention are being led by former boxer Ferdinand Rutikanga, who, while speaking to Time Sport recently, said that the current state of affairs of the sport is saddening.
He said, “Our sport is dying a slow death and there is an urgent need for the National Olympic Committee and the Ministry of Sports and Culture to intervene to get the federation (Rwanda Amateur Boxing Association) to put the house in order.”
“We need a new committee that is inspired and committed to re-establish the sport. The current RABA leadership has been ineffective for the last two years.
“They have failed to organise the national championship since they came into office, there is no boxing in the country, the national team boxers are not participating in any competition, it is as if the federation doesn’t exist,” noted Rutikanga.
The veteran boxing enthusiast added; “There is a deep-rooted problem of lack of seriousness by the current leadership of RABA, which calls for the Olympic Committee and Ministry’s intervention. Other federations released their annual calendars; national championships are going on elsewhere. But nothing is really happening in boxing.”
Last week, Times Sport visited the RABA offices at Amahoro National Stadium, which were found locked and appeared to have been deserted for a while.
Efforts to reach RABA president Vick Kalisa yielded nothing as he did not pick his phone or return our calls by press time.
His deputy Jean Maurice Bikorimana, a former national Light Welter (64kg) champion, said that the federation has just attained a temporary legal status, which is the reason the offices have been closed lately. Boxing was among the federations suspended by the National Olympic Committee.
“I don’t know what is going on but I heard recently that a temporary legal status was obtained, which is why the federation (RABA) participated in the recent RNOSC elections,” he stated.
There challenges faced by RABA range from lack of financial resources, and infrastructure to well-trained and qualified trainers. Rwanda last sent a boxer in a major competition at the 2014 Africa Youth Games in Botswana where Jean Pierre Cyiza won a bronze.
The current RABA leadership, headed by former national team boxer Kalisa, came into power in May last year, on a four-year term to revive the sport.
Kalisa then 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.”