I HAD to change the angle to this week’s piece after learning of the disastrous elimination of the entire five-man contingent of Zambian boxers from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games qualifiers in Cameroon in the quarter finals.
The team comprised welterweights Ben Muziyo and Mbachi Kaonga, bantamweight Emmanuel Ngoma and flyweights Caristo Bwalya and Juliana Kasonka, the lone female participant in the group.
What pained me more was that, except for Bwalya who lost to Mokamou Mayeleti of Congo Brazzaville in the preliminary round of the competition, the rest had fared better, making the quarter final stage.
After learning of the disastrous performance by the entire team, the first question that came to mind was, just how good are our amateur boxers? This poser struck and reminded me of a conversation I had some time back with a friend.
“Can the Zambia soccer team make the world cup if we hired a coach like Pep Guordiola, the Bayern Munich and former Barcelona coach who boasts of a string of accolades and trophies for the teams he has coached?” I asked the friend.
His answer was a plain one: “I don’t think so. You can have a good coach, but if the players you work with are sub standard, there isn’t much you can achieve.”
And so, after a good start to the Rio 2016 qualifiers by our amateur boxers, the same question came back to me with even greater force and, unlike the first time when I had someone to ask, I found that I must ask and answer it myself: “Just how good are our amateur boxers?”
Of course, the question must also consider the caliber of the technical bench. Well, let me make myself clear. I am a patriot through and through and I always wish my country success whenever and wherever it takes part in competitions like the Rio 2016 qualifiers.
“One hopes nothing will stop Zambia’s flag carriers from progressing further in the qualifiers contest and win big and get to Rio de Jenairo. To win big, they will need to dream big.” But all this hope came down crashing like a ton of bricks.
England amateur boxing team coach Mick Driscoll said a couple of weeks ago that Zambian boxers were not far from qualifying to the 2016 Rio Olympic after selection trials in Cameroun, but pointed out that all they needed to do was improve their technical skills.
Driscoll had no problems with the boxers’ physique and strength, but was quick to note that there was more to boxing than mere physical attributes. Those attributes were the technical side of the sport which can mean collection of meaningful medals or otherwise.
In a word, Driscoll was saying boxers need to be sharp, quick, nimble footed and use hit-before-you-are-hit by your opponent, outthink your opponent among many other tactics. I would add the cardinal importance of having a winning attitude if they were to go far in the competition, let alone understanding of the electronic scoring system used at the Olympic Games.
Despite being drilled on the technical aspects, how many of them are individually ring savvy as to change the course of a fight? Boxing is an individual sport and although the coach plays a part in one’s victory, sometimes much depends on the boxer himself to do the right things in the ring. It’s not the coach who fights for you, let alone the fans. The greater responsibility rests with the boxer to read his opponents’ tactics and adjust.
Comments: 0966 755574/ 0953 744074 email@example.com