South African boxing authorities are hitting the road in search of the fighters who could bring back medals from the 2012 Olympic Games in London and beyond.
The ambitious project is aimed at bringing on board prospective champions around the country who are not yet part of the formal structures of the amateur boxing scene.
It may be argued that it is impossible to identify talent in the relatively short period of two years before London, 2012, but the project aims to ensure that talented boxers get to be part of the 2012 preparation programme.
How the process will work is that, starting in Kimberley, Northern Cape on October 17, “tournaments” will take place in the nine provinces with the South African National Amateur Boxing Organisation (SANABO) and Boxing SA (BSA) responsible for the technical issues and operations of the project.
The final tournament is scheduled for November 29.
Other tournament venues will be: Eastern Cape (Mthatha, 30 October, Mdantsane, 31 October and Port Elizabeth, 1 November), Limpopo (Malumulele, 24 October; Polokwane 25 October), Mpumalanga (Secunda, 31 October), KwaZulu-Natal (Durban, 7 November; Mtubatuba, 8 November), Western Cape (Khayelitsha; 24 October, Plettenberg Bay, 25 October), Northern Cape (Kimberley 17 October), North West (Tlokwe, 31 October), Free State (Bloemfontein, 21 November), Gauteng (Soweto, 8 November; Mamelodi, 21 November; KwaThema, 22 November; Booysens 28 November and Ga-rankuwa, 29 November).
The rules of the contests will be that of amateur boxing, in line with the AIBA (International Amateur Boxing Association) regulations on the separation of professional and amateur boxing.
“I am extremely enthusiastic about this project,” says SANABO president Barries Barnard. “This is an opportunity that we will utilise to the absolute maximum to market “Olympic style” boxing in South Africa, while at the same time, creating an overall awareness of the boxing potential in our country.”
From the process roughly 100 to 120 boxers will be selected to be part of the exciting programme.
“I think that the Gauteng and Eastern Cape venues have the potential to attract the most boxers on registration day,” says Barnard.
These boxers will then be absorbed into the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and Department of Correctional Services (DCS) systems where they will undergo mandatory training from January to June 2010 as well as boxing training.
The next step will be for selected boxers to fight against the existing amateur squads in the various SANABO areas.
This will narrow the squad to a focused squad of first 30 and then finally a team of 13 (10 men and three women) will earn the cherry on top, a trip to Cuba in 2011.
Then, after extensive training in Cuba, one of the hot beds of world boxing, the Cuban coach(es) will come to South Africa early in 2012 to put the final touches on Games preparation whilst also imparting critical skills to SA Coaches.
The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee’s (SASCOC) role in the matter will be that of “overseeing” the implementation of the project and ensuring that the existing structures have proper support systems to track and closely monitor the selected squad to ensure the smooth running of matters.
Explained Ezera Tshabangu, General Manager of SASCOC’s High Performance Department: “SASCOC is excited about this venture with the SANDF and SANABO. Key stakeholders such as Sport and Recreation SA, Provincial Departments of Sport and Recreation and Provincial Academies will be roped in, in order to ensure that necessary support for the boxers not selected to be part of the SANDF programme are absorbed into the various existing athlete support programmes.
“This programme will be run annually and will not only look at London 2012, but Rio 2016 and beyond.”
The criteria for participation is as follows: boxers must be SA citizens (men and women) aged between 18-26, have a national senior certificate (Grade 12 or completed matric certificate), can’t have taken part in any professional boxing bout, must be medically fit, and have no criminal record.
Boxers need to bring the following to the talent search tournaments: gumguards (a must), own vest and shorts, boxing/running shoes, groin protectoer (if possible), hand-wraps, and a certified copy of ID and Grade 12 certificate
Prospective boxers will have to weigh in at not less than 46kg. and have matric as a requirement although the subject of maths will not be a prerequisite as it is a special programme.
It is envisaged that this will be an annual programme which is also expected to assist the SANDF in its recruitment process.
“Entrance to tournaments is free and I really urge all boxing fans to come and attend the action and become part of this exciting initiative,” concluded Barnard.
For information on where to go for pre-registration and the actual venues, contact Jean Kelly or Vicky Hlatshwayo on – 011 483-9000/483-3788.