Botswana boxing team gives Basotho a hiding
The Botswana senior boxing national team has dominated the Lesotho national team, demonstrating it has twice the obstinacy and twice the proficiency over the mountain kingdom’s pugilists in an International friendly ahead of the All Africa Championships to be held in Congo Brazzaville in September.
Weighing in at 52 kilograms, Mahommed Otukile who is one of two boxers going to represent Botswana at the Samoa Youth Games and whose fitness and big arena bout readiness has been castigated by DTCB Boxing Club head coach and former Botswana national team Head coach Thebe Setlalekgosi overwhelmed Lesotho’s Nkululeko Suntele in the first round, proceeding to engage in a bruising up-tempo close quarter’s slugfest to clinch a 3-0 unanimous decision victory.
Lean-bodied, youthful charger Thabiso Mpolokeng succumbed to Lesotho’s stealthy Moroke ‘Rocket’ Mokhotho, a predatory aggressor commanding the advantage of age and experience who despite lacking the height and reach benefit came gunning for victory and could explode in the offensive, in the nick of time to unsettle the spirit and psyche of the floating and bobbing younger Mpolokeng, in due course bagging the 3-0 unanimous decision victory at 52 kilograms.
Kefentse Molalapata; a Southpaw stance prize fighter weighing in at 56 kilograms did not budge, outclassing Khauhelo Mothunyane with no cause to display and employ any footwork effort. The stout bodied prize fighter with the body build of an absolute boxer was however defeated by the relentlessly charging and offensive Mountaineer in a 2-1 split decision prompting uproar of fight fans at ringside.
In an electrifying 60 kilogram bout between Lesotho’s Qhobosheane ‘Mashea’ Motlerepe and one of the country’s most exciting prospects and top-tier pound-for-pound contenders, Kabelo Steven Bagwasi ruled over Motlerepe to clinch a 3-0 unanimous decision victory.
The younger of the Bagwasi brothers, who is an unrelenting brutal body puncher, who unlocks the locked exhibited outstanding ring generalship stalking and methodically ripping apart the Mountaineer’s defense in a ruthless point scoring crusade.
The charging dynamo with cat-like reflexes subsequently ascertained his class as an upper league contender who superseded Motlerepe’s notable skill. The notably experienced Lesotho man who was composed and guarded but firm in defeat was somewhat outshined by an undoubtedly grander boxer.
The older of the Bagwasi brothers Kagiso Bagwasi, an old hand in national squad boxing circles weighing in at 64 kilograms got involved in a literally toe-to-toe messy and mind-numbing all -south paw contest with Lesotho’s Tshepo Leqotho who fought with an exaggerated defensive stance.
Another boxing old hand Mmusi Tswiige, a 69 kilogram southpaw annihilated Bokang Khoai; a ripped and barrel-chested Lesotho Defence Force soldier with the body build and physical makings of a fiery prize fighter. Tswiige routed the well-built LDF mountaineer who retreated from the incoming gush of heat by continuously orbiting around the ring and a continuous holding which earned him a point deduction.
The Botswana boxing team performed comparatively well over the Lesotho winning six out of nine bouts five of the fights by unanimous decision. The Botswana boxers’ noticeable trend of outright outclassing of their seemingly ageing Basotho opponents in the first round could also be indicative of strength and technical progression of the Botswana boxing team.
Lesotho coach Lehlohonolo Lebotsa expressed satisfaction with the condition of his team signaling his intention to continue physically molding his team for the looming All Africa Championships. Lebotsa promised to take Nkululeko Suntele, the experienced Qhobosheane ‘Mashea’ Motlerepe who both lost to Botswana boxers as well as Thabo Molibeli who won against Botswana’s Tefo Rammupudu, Moroke ‘Rocket’ Mokhotho who beat Kefentse Molalapata.
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AFRICA’S RECOVERY: Sports as game changer
The year 2022 witnessed unprecedented phenomena. Several Africans- Gotytom Gebreslase, Sharon Lokedi, Victor Kiplangat, Tamarit Tola and many others- swept the World’s marathons records.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting control measures implemented in several countries, led to many high-level sports competitions being cancelled or shelved, the Dakar 2022 Youth Olympic Games was moved to 2026.
Founder and Executive Chairman, African Sports and Creative Institute, Will Mabiakop, says the inability to hold traditional and amateur sports events have had a serious effect on public health overall, including mental health, sparking a revolution whereby athletes began to talk more openly about stress, mental overload and performance anxiety.
“Africa is home to the fastest growing economies before the crisis, no longer on track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). COVID-19 deepened interdependence between SDGs, making them harder to achieve, especially SDG 10 (reducing inequality) and SDG 5 (gender equality_ as the pandemic had a disproportionate impact on poorer countries, and heavier burdens (such as care work) fell to women.”
Mabiakop stresses that as policymakers contemplate actions to speed up recovery and build resilience, they must argue that sports and creative businesses should play a central feature in this effort.
“The sports economy worldwide is estimated at 5% of GDP, but only 0.5% in Africa. If exploited, Africa’s sports and creative industries can offer policymakers innovative solutions. Especially, as regards job creation, and providing employment to the 15 million people entering the job market annually.”
HOW CAN THE INDUSTRY DO THIS?
By leveraging the two-for-one concept: past studies shown that a 1% growth in the economy delivers a 2% job increment in this sector (these ratios are calculated using data from 48 African countries and adjusted to the reality of the sports economy in Africa by the authors). There are between 30 and 50 job types, in sports and creative industries, respectively. These jobs do not fade away with the first major shock.
Mabiakop indicated that policymakers can use these industries to tackle multiple crises- jobs, poverty, and climate risks. Sports diplomacy- defined as communication, representation and negotiation in or through the prism of sports- has proven effective in building inclusive and cohesive societies. Moreover, sports and the creative industry can support better mental health and well-being, both important for productivity.
“Policymakers can also be true to the game by leveraging culture and tradition to celebrate identity and reap commercial value in sports, textiles and jewelry. Creative sectors allow deeper connection with culture, are not easily copied and provide great economic potential.”
He said supporting grassroots sports has powerful distributional effects. “Fortunately, technology has made reaching wide audiences easier, generating higher rates of success when talent is discovered.”
However, Mabiakop held that potential pitfalls must be highlighted. “First avoid build it and they will come policies with infrastructures denuded from the rest of the ecosystem. Like the many sports stadiums left largely unused.”
“Policymakers must remain mindful of how these sectors move the needle in human capital development. Also, align the requisite public policies needed for progress from grassroots participation to professional sports, and even to international sporting events. They should also support investment instruments to render these sectors performant.”