SASCOC have put together an intensive programme which will ensure that the country sends a good number of fighters to London 2012. The aggressive approach was undertaken after the country’s poor showing in last year’s Olympics where Jackson Chauke ÔÇô was the lone boxing entrant.
Mesuli Zifo reports that even though only one boxer was sent to Beijing, generally the country’s other sporting codes did do well to supply athletes of Olympic standard, although their performance during the Games left a lot to be desired as Team SA returned home with only one medal.
But according to SASCOC president Gideon Sam all that is now water under the bridge and focus is on doing well in London.
Sascoc have already put aside R400 million to ensure nothing is left for chance as the structure prepares for a medal haul in London.
Already a target of 12 medals for the country has been set and Sam believes the number is not unrealistic. ‘Look, we have so many federations here and many of them are positive that they will bring back the medals for the country,’ he said.
‘In fact the High Performance Centre in Pretoria was telling me the other day that their team will bring back 12 medals and if you have people saying that then this target can be easily achieved.’
Sam believes the SA National Amateur Boxing Organisation (Sanabo) should contribute a sizeable number of the medals due to the abundance of boxing talent in the country.
While Sanabo would want to quickly forget Beijing it is a fact that part of the failure to qualify more than one fighter was due to the demotion of several African Games tournaments as a qualifying tournaments by Amateur International Boxing Association (Aiba).
But plans are now afoot for upcoming quaifiers┬á to ensure the country qualifies at least four fighters. ‘Qualifying four fighters is not an unrealistic target if you consider the abundance of talent this country has,’ Sam said.
The ball has already been set rolling with Sam convincing major education institutions to come on board and offer a helping hand.
Institutions such as Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizbeth have already agreed to help the Eastern Cape Amateur Team maximise their potential.
‘We want all provincial structures to engage these universities in order to benefit in programmes such as research and others,’ Sam said.
Sascoc will propose to Sanabo to select 30 fighters who will be placed in a special training programmes and be nurtured accordingly.
This number will be whittled down to 10 by 2011 with the remaining fighters put through an intensive programmes which will involve getting into the exchange programmes the country already enjoys with countries such as Cuba.
Cuba is considered the top country with the best boxing amateur programme in the world. Sam says the SA Government already enjoys several exchange programmes with Cuba including the amateur programme would not be a hassle. ‘By this time these kids will be in an advanced stage of the preparations for the 2012 Games,’ he said.
Several provinces already have High Performance Centres where boxing talent is being nurtured and moulded into championship material. Getting universities’ research departments to help will yield positive results, according to Sam.
The biggest Achilles heel for amateur boxing is when the fighters strip their vest and decide to fight for bucks in the professional ranks. To mininise this problem Sanabo signed a deal with Boxing SA in which the former will have to be compensated for all amateur fighters turning professional.
However the deal has not been honoured by managers of fighters with Jackson Chauke the only fighter whose manager paid a compensation to Sanabo when Chauke turned professional.
Zifi is an award-winning boxing writer for the Daily Dispatch. Check out the official SASCOC mag currently on sale at all leading retailers for R29.95 for this story and more.