No opponents for Commonwealth team
MASERU – The national boxing tournament held last Saturday at Makoanyane Barracks failed to live up to the expectations as boxers were left itching for a fight in a ring without opponents. The tournament, which was intended to intensify the preparations for the Lesotho boxing team selected for the upcoming Commonwealth Games, became a useless event at the end of the day due to poor attendance by the clubs.
Arena Pakela, Moroke Mokhotho, Qhobosheane Mohlerepe, Phomolo Lengola and Retšelisitose Kolobe are lined up to compete at the Games. Although seven out of 15 clubs that are members of the Lesotho Boxing Association (LeBA) failed to honour the tournament, eight clubs that honoured the event competed only with the junior boxers, leaving the Commonwealth Games selected boxers without opponents. Lengola, among the five selected boxers, was the only one who ended up finding an opponent who he knocked out in two rounds.
LeBA’s Public Relations Officer, Rethabile Ntiea, said they were disappointed with the attendance of the clubs. “As LeBA, we are not at all satisfied with the attendance of the clubs,” said Ntiea in an interview with Public Eye. LeBA, Ntiea said, thought the poor attendance of the clubs was merely because the selection for the Commonwealth Games was already made and the clubs felt it was not necessary to compete with their senior boxers.
“This was caused by the fact that we have already selected a team for the Commonwealth Games and the senior boxers who were supposed to compete against the selected boxers were disappointed and stopped attending sparring sessions while others were busy with school commitments.” However, according to some sources, the clubs intentionally boycotted the tournament because they were not satisfied with the selection of the boxers for the Commonwealth Games. The upcoming Commonwealth Games are scheduled to take place in Birmingham, England from July 28 to August 8.
Tšosane Boxing Club’s coach, Tieho Ntulo, confirmed that the clubs’ coaches were not satisfied with the selection, even though he denied that they did not compete with their senior boxers to boycott the tournament. He said this was because some of the senior boxers were sick while others were unfit for the tournament. “I am still not satisfied with the way the selection was made, but that’s not the reason why we could not compete with the senior boxers,” said Ntulo in an interview with Public Eye on Monday.
“We were forced by the weather conditions not to compete with the senior boxers, apart from the fact that our seniors’ boxers did not attend the team’s sparring sessions ahead of the tournament, and also because some were sick, and so as a coach I could not throw in the ring boxers who are unfit for the competition.” Ntulo said only one of his senior boxers was ready for the tournament but he could not allow him to fight because he had no opponent as far as boxing weighting is concerned. “The only boxer from my team who was there had no opponent, as far as boxing weighting is concerned, and I had to withdraw him from fighting with a catch-weight since it is not allowed internationally.”
Back to the dissatisfaction of the clubs about the selection, Ntulo said in the beginning, LeBA said they as clubs, would be engaged when the team is selected but that did not happen. “We were told that the team would be ours to choose but we had never been involved until the selection was made.” Pakela, who is one of the selected boxers for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, is from Tšosane Boxing Club.