They are starved, subjected to exhausting days of travel, forced to square up against opponents of different weight categories and even worse, shortchanged on purse money—desperate Malawian boxers are suffering in silence.
Of late, Malawian boxers have been fighting in countries such as Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania and Namibia but few of them win as promoters and managers connive to pick readily available and desperate boxers irrespective of their preparedness and weight categories.
Such foreign managers and promoters are keen on weak opposition so as to build cheaply profiles of their home fighters whereas promoters and match-makers are only interested in money.
Some 20 Malawian fighters have fought in foreign land in the last two years with a few such as Chimwemwe Chiotcha, Alick Gogodo and Limbani Masamba able to win away.
The rest hardly lasts beyond three rounds as they either arrive in foreign land very exhausted or travel while ill-prepared in desperate need for quick money. Local professional boxers can earn a miserable K100,000 compared to over K500,000 in foreign land.
And when it comes to bringing foreign boxers from countries such as Tanzania, promoters and managers pick every Jim and Jack while aiming to build fake records for Malawian opposition.
Several boxers Malawi News interviewed complained that they are gagged as the Malawi Professional Boxing Control Board only asks about its cuts from boxers’ earnings from fights.
“Before departure, we agreed that I would fight an opponent of my category but upon arrival there after days of travelling and starving, I was asked to increase my weight to match that of my opponent who was 15 kgs heavier,” said the boxer.
“The money I received is not what we agreed. I tried to ask but I received threats. The environment is so harsh when you travel. You prepare for fights on your own without a coach and you are starved.”
Another boxer revealed that some boxers from Tanzania are paid to lose fights.
However, the board’s President, Lonzoe Zimba, insisted that no boxer has ever lodged a complaint to the body over ill-treatment in foreign land, saying it was a lie that the pugilists face opponents of different weight categories.
“These are just excuses that some boxers make after a loss. Bear in mind that it is not easy winning away and the best way to do it is through knock-outs. It is not only Malawian boxers who lose in foreign land. We have also had boxers such as Alick Gogodo and Limbani Masamba winning in foreign land,” Zimba said.
“Professional boxing is business. People fight for money. The agreement is signed between a manager and boxer. We clear the boxers to fight in foreign land in good faith. If we do not clear them it is the same boxers that would rush to you the press to complain that we are standing in their way.”
Zimba, however, admitted that some boxers from countries such as Tanzania are not good enough and faulted some matchmakers who, he said, were only interested in building records of Malawian pugilists.
“As for foreign boxers that come to Malawi, once they bring a clearance from their country we have no powers to stop them from fighting,” he insisted.
A report on allafrica. com allafrica.com/ stories/201512010288.html also quoted Tanzanian boxing coach, Yassin Abdallah, as claiming that Namibia is producing fake champions due to hometown judges’ decisions that do not favour visiting boxers.
“Every day, you are creating fake champions in Namibia and boxers in this country are not going anywhere. These boxers will die if they go fight in Europe,” said Abdallah, who is also Tanzania Professional Boxing Organisation (TPBO) Limited’s President.
South Africa-based pugilist, Isaac Chilemba, warned that dispatching to foreign land ill-prepared boxers dents Malawi’s boxing reputation and endangers their lives. He promised to host workshops to enlighten Malawi boxing fraternity.
“There is a lot missing in how fights and boxing should be contracted. Before a fighter and his manager agree to any fight, a contract should be presented on a written paper with information such as the date of the fight, where, what weight, opponents, how much money, transportation and accommodation,” he said.
Malawi National Council of Sports’ Executive Secretary, George Jana, said he was not aware of the boxers’ ordeal as professional boxing is not under the jurisdiction of the sports’ governing body.
Jana further advised boxers not to risk their lives just for the sake of money.
“We would encourage the professional boxing groupings supervising and issuing clearances for the travels of these boxers to be responsible enough and be protective of the boxers’ health and safety and also their reputation and that of the nation,” Jana explained.
“They must not expose the boxers to the kind of situations being narrated as it may be detrimental to the health of the boxers. The weight categories in boxing are for a reason and that must be respected.”
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