From ELIAS CHIPEPO
In New York, USA
THE Zambia Professional Boxing and Wrestling Control Board (ZPBWCB) has refused to lag behind as the revolution of WWE is set to take centre stage across Africa.
With WWE and SuperSport having signed a new multi-year agreement to broadcast WWE programming live for the first time in more than 50 countries throughout sub-Saharan Africa, the ZPBWCB says it is working on reviving the sport.
Zambia Professional Boxing and Wrestling Control Board (ZPBWCB) chairperson Nelson Sapi said his board is working tirelessly to resuscitate wrestling which ‘died’ following the demise of William ‘Tiger Boy’ Nkandu.
“The sport has not been doing well from the time that we lost ba William ‘Tiger Boy’ Nkandu as he was the only one left with that vision. But the sport is still administered under my board,” Sapi said.
However, Sapi said the board has been having consultations with the Sports Minister because of the huge interest in the sport among Zambians.
He had upcoming wrestlers who were under Tiger Boy Foundation were still around and are now being trained by Exodus International Boxing Promotions proprietor Anthony Mwamba.
Sapi said this in a response to a press query on the status of wrestling in the country.
He said Mwamba had organised a tournament some time back but it was a near disaster as the ring could not sustain the pressure of the five bouts which were included on the night bill programme.
The organisers had to stop the fights ahead of the Esther Phiri main bout to avoid calamity.
Sapi sad the only ring the country has is not strong enough to accommodate wrestling fights.
“Otherwise the public interest for wrestling is huge in Zambian but we urgently need a proper ring for it,” he said.
Sapi said his Board, in February this year, met new Sports Minister who showed great interest in reviving wrestling to an extent of asking the ZPBWCB to come up with quotations for a new wrestling ring.
He said there was need to take advantage of the Ministers’ zeal to help revive the sports so that Zambia can be able to produce athletes that can compete at the highest level.
“Zambia as a country needs to partner with Zambia Body Builders Association to carry this programme forward as this is the only area where we can find good promising looking bodies to carry this crusade,” he said.
Sapi said Ghana was one country doing well in wrestling and was confident the sport will be revived courtesy of government support.
SuperSport communications manager Clinton Van der Berg said the WWE was excited to put that footprint across the African sub-Sahara where 52 countries would have access to live broadcast of the various WWE events.
“They (WWE) are equally excited but they will have an entirely new audience and they are enthusiastic about developing African wrestlers to compete in the WWE,” Van der Berg said.
SuperSport, who have sponsored African journalists to witness some WWE events in New York, would, starting August 28, air WWE’s flagship shows Raw and SmackDown as well as WWE specials, including WrestleMania and SummerSlam.