With forty of Africa’s top boxers now qualified for the 2017 AIBA World Championships following last month’s AFBC Continental tournament in Brazzaville, AIBA’s Year of Africa legacy project continues its journey across the continent promoting boxing, its values and the positive message it brings to young people, with a three-week stop in South Africa. The long-term development programme will help unlock Africa’s enormous potential through a year-long series of educational courses and initiatives symbolised by the Year of Africa Truck, a mobile gym that arrived in the country on 1 July, aiming to elevate boxing as a whole from its administration to its practice in the ring.
“As the first of AIBA’s important legacy projects for the sport, seeing the impact of the Year of Africa in South Africa reminds us of the power boxing has to capture the imagination of young people and how it can inspire in them the important values that we should all strive to live by. The ambition behind this year is to create the conditions for a new golden era in African boxing to flourish, and it is gratifying to see the hard work paying off,” said AIBA President Dr Ching-Kuo Wu.
The one and two-star AIBA Coach, one-star AIBA R&J and GlovesUp courses will offer more than 190 places to those looking to advance and sustain their careers within the sport, with the 2017 South African National Boxing Championships providing the opportunity for practical assessment. South Africa will host representatives of Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana and Zimbabwe for the courses, helping contribute to a broader raising of standards among the extended AIBA Family.
“Since we hosted the opening event for Year of Africa, we have watched the tremendous impact that the project has been having on boxing’s profile both in South Africa and beyond. AIBA has brought the knowledge to our doorstep and with it a unique opportunity for African boxing and it needs to be seized with both hands,” said SANABO President Andile Mofu.
With a host of courses aimed at all elements of the AIBA Family, including the new, entry-level GlovesUp programme, the South Africa leg will put even greater focus on the benefits the sport brings to young people through a number of education sessions in local schools. In total across the year, more than 4,800 certified course places will be on offer, while the Year of Africa aims to help boxing reach a new audience of more than 750,000 people.
A South African boxing legend and the country’s flag-bearer at the 1996 Olympic Games, Masibulele ‘The Hawk’ Makepula is an Ambassador for this three-week leg of the project. As the man behind his own boxing foundation for young people, he knows exactly how important it is to keep nourishing African boxing from the ground up. “I give my compliments to AIBA for focusing on the grass-roots programme. People tend to pay attention to the boxers only when they get to the podium, but their success comes from somewhere. The grass-roots is exactly where everything starts.”