WHEN England amateur boxing team coach Mick Driscoll was attached to drill the Zambia boxing squad in March ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games qualifiers, he said the boxers were not far from qualifying after selection trials in Cameroun, pointing out that all they needed was to improve their technical skills.
The Englishman had no problems with the boxers’ physique and strength he said, 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, among 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 Olympic Games.
The Zambian contingent to Cameroun was a five-man cast of welterweights Ben Muziyo and Mbachi Kaonga, bantamweight Emmanuel Ngoma and flyweights Caristo Bwalya and Juliana Kasonka, the lone female participant in the team. All were sadly eliminated.
The International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) gave Muziyo and Ngoma chance to take part in the World Boxing Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan. By dint of fortune, Muziyo was given a wildcard entry despite losing to Equadorian Degado Suarez Mario.
Muziyo, a Commonwealth bronze medalist, was beaten in a middleweight contest during the championship that acted as last hope of qualifiers to the Olympic Games.
Bantamweight Emmanuel Ngoma, who was eliminated earlier, will, however, not get any wildcard ticket leaving only Muziyo to represent Zambia at the Games in Brazil.
I was shocked this past week to hear that Muziyo is focusing on reaching the semi- finals at the Games. I think he is aiming too low.
I thought that after being handed a lucky chance to proceed to Rio he would be telling us nothing short of a gold medal would please him, but alas! He will be satisfied to reach the semi-finals. He should be setting the bar higher; not aiming for silver and much less bronze.
That desire, the hunger to achieve the highest prize is what made Floyd, Muhammad Ali, Lennox Lewis the boxers they were. Surely we can’t .expect much from a boxer who is going into an important competition like the Olympics almost-half-hearted.
Consider the fact that this is the first time that he will be competing at the Olympics, let alone that he’s the only Zambian boxer. If I were him, I would be thanking my ancestors who have made what seemed impossible-going to Rio by default. I would be going to redeem himself. Anyway, that’s his choice.
Meanwhile, the heavyweight division is getting interesting with Britain’s International Boxing Federation undefeated Anthony Joshua(17-0, all kos)) seemingly on a collision course any time in future with American Deontay Wilder the World Boxing Council champion also undefeated in 36 fights with 35 knockouts. Joshua knocked out American challenger Dominic Breazeale last week in seven rounds in his first defence of the title he won from another American Charles Martin.
What makes this possible clash unavoidable is the fact that both boxers are still young with Joshua 26, and Wilder 30. How soon this fight will take to make is not clear at this stage, but Joshua, after defeating Breazeale said he was heading to America, hinting vaguely that Wilder is in his plans.
He said Wilder was now concentrating on his next fight against Chris Arreola on July 16 while he, Joshua, has a possible date in the near future with New Zealander Joseph Parker, although negotiations for the fight have not been concluded at this writing.