THE Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF) Chief of Operations, Major General, Freddy Kapinga, the other day paid glowing tribute to the army and other local boxers for putting their all in the game despite facing numerous financial and other challenges.
The army general said in spite of the numerous challenges local boxers outside the army were facing, they had made tremendous strides, especially in the realm of professional boxing.
The general was spot on if you reviewed the milestones attained by local boxers in the professional ranks, boxers who have faced a lot of problems in raising money for funding their training. Take the case of the Tanga region based, world ranking professional boxer, Hassan Mwakinyo, as a case in point.
The young Tanzanian boxer rose almost from nothing to where he is at the moment in world rankings; namely, 15th out of 1,842 boxers in the super welterweight division.
Mwakinyo took Tanzanians and the world in general by surprise because he had struggled, almost single handedly, undergoing gruelling training with the support of very few people in Britain where the handlers had seen the young man’s boxing talent.
Had we had long, a well thought out organisation, which took care of our boxing and other sports talents in the country, we could have noted Mwakinyo’s boxing promise and his mercurial rise would not have taken us by surprise.
But because we don’t have such an organisation and our local boxers and other sports talents are working on their own, we will continue to be taken by surprise. Yet this is not something we should buttress. We need to start thinking hard on how we can develop and nurture sports talents, starting with what the TPDF General advised us the other day.
He appealed to those with financial muscles to throw their weight behind boxing and other sports talents in the country and instead of reacting whenever a local sports talent is recognised globally as it had happened when Mwakinyo won his boxing laurels the other day when he beat in London a global ranking Super Welterweight champion to get where he is today.
There is presently a plethora of local talents fine tuning their muscles from backyard boxing rings and Tanzanians should not be surprised when such talents finally reach the global boxing stage.
At present, TPDF is arguably leading the pack and locally, it is the reigning champion in amateur ranks and it is just a matter of time because their boxing prowess become known regionally and continentally.
For Tanzanian businessmen and women, this is one area they can invest their money in apart from soccer academies. What our local boxing talents need is simply money for funding their training which includes, among others, paying their local coaches, boxers allowances and meeting the cost of balanced diet for the pugilists.
And the beauty of funding boxers training is that it is not as expensive as what is required by soccer academies which require an elaborate and expensive infrastructure.
There are presently hundreds of young men and women across the country following the footsteps of their boxing idol, Hassan Mwakinyo, talents that only need a few hundred thousand shillings to stand on their own.
For once a boxer gets into global professional ranks and starts knocking out his opponents, the businessman or women who have funded such boxer’s training would have collected his pound of flesh before the boxer in question defends his or her title.
Our businessmen and women need to diversify their investment by extending their capital to sports which have massive range of sporting talents from boxing to soccer and from athletics to field events and swimming. And for the foregoing sport disciplines, it is advisable to start from tender age.
Starting from tender age assures one of reaping both financial and other benefits which includes, among others, sporting success.
You can imagine the boxer whose training you had funded winning an Olympic gold medal or a couple of young talents from your soccer academy being sought by top-flight soccer clubs like Barcelona FC, Real Madrid, Arsenal or Paris St Germain!
In 1990s, Ivory Coast’s Asec were paid by Arsenal over 500,000 sterling pounds for Kolo Toure immediately the Ivorian club had eliminated Young Africans in the then All Africa Club Championship which is presently referred to as the Champions League.
During the time, Kolo Toure’s performance was not very much different from the performance of a couple of Young Africans players. But the English premier club picked Kolo Toure because they needed a young defender who would later go on to play for English premier league soccer giants, Manchester City.
It is therefore time for our businessmen and women they also focused their attention to sports, starting as noted by the TPDF General, with boxing where there are already a galore of boxing talents. Let’s stop these surprises. But we can only do that if we take Major General Kapinga’s advise.