Blantyre-born boxing star Isaac ‘Golden Boy’ Chilemba has said he has not given up on his wish to fight on home soil despite being frustrated by lack of sufficient interest in Malawi.
The Daily Times had asked the boxer from his base in Johannesburg, South Africa on whether he still hopes to have his first-ever professional bout in Malawi.
“I would love to fight in Malawi as that is my home. The only fights I had there was as an amateur. Therefore, I would love to step in the ring as a professional on my home soil. That is my biggest dream. So I’m still working on it,” said the boxer who hails from Lunzu, Blantyre.
Chilemba left Malawi as an amateur boxer for Blantyre Youth Centre in 2003 and settled in Johannesburg where he was groomed into a professional fighter.
Six years ago, Chilemba came to Malawi and presented a proposal to stakeholders, including potential sponsors for his maiden professional tight fight in Malawi.
Roughly, the budget for the bout was then at K50 million. The budget included workshops for Malawi boxers and stakeholders so as to share with them knowledge of how to professionalise the sport in Malawi.
However, Chilemba said he met so many challenges including limited interest and support.
“It is just not that easy trying to organise while here. No one seems to take it seriously or show some sort of effort. But one way or another, I will make this happen before my retirement,” he said.
Sports administrator and marketer Chimwemwe Nyirenda, who came across the proposal six years ago, Tuesday said what Chilemba wanted was not realistic for Malawi standards.
“His expectations in terms of costs were not realistic. People always forget that sponsorship is not a donation. If a sponsor pumps in K20 million into a fight, what is it that he would get in return? He needs to look at Malawi standards and swallow some of the costs. What is critical is cost of an air ticket and accommodation and he can partner with an airliner and a hotel,” Nyirenda said.
Malawi Professional Boxing Control Board Chairperson, Lonzoe Zimba, Tuesday said his association did not receive Chilemba’s initial proposal for the fight.
“He briefed us that time but since he was discussing with the government, we were just waiting,” Zimba said.
Now that he is a world star, any bout for Chilemba can only be organised by his management team which includes American firm Main Events which promotes Chilemba in collaboration with trainers Jodi Solomon and Roy Jones Junior.
A few years ago, Chilemba reacted angrily to Malawi media reports that local boxing authorities were interested in engaging him to stage a fight in Malawi, Chilemba said such reports put him in conflict with his promoter.
“I would like to state for the record that I have never approached Maba [Malawi Boxing Association] with regards to them giving me a fight in Malawi. I have, however, approached a few people regarding my promotional company and my wish to stage professional boxing tournaments and workshops for Malawian boxers,” Chilemba wrote on January 29 2014.
“I have approached people as I need the government funding in order to make this is a reality. This by no means is for myself to fight but rather to help develop the fighters currently in Malawi. [Otherwise] I am signed to an American promoter. It is a legal and binding contract worldwide.”
The World Boxing Council (WBC) lightweight challenger has set himself a target of winning a world title this year.
“My plan this year is to fight two, three times and win a title. Whether a world title or international, whatever fight will present itself,” Chilemba said.