Boxers to stage protest after missing Olympics qualifier

•Why we didn’t fund Dakar trip – Sports ministry

’Tosin Oluwalowo

Nigeria boxers have threatened to protest the country’s non-appearance at the qualifying tournament for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in Dakar, Senegal from February 20 to 29.

One of the boxers, who spoke with our correspondents on the condition of anonymity, said the Nigeria Boxing Federation told them that they would not participate in the Olympic qualifiers because there were no medal hopefuls.

“They said the same thing at the African Games, that we were not competent to win any medal, but out of the 10 boxers Nigeria took, we won seven medals – one gold, one silver and five bronze medals,” our source said.

According to him, while the federation is complaining of lack of funds,

He accused the federation officials of embarking on a trip to Cameroon that had no positive effect on the boxers, despite complaining of paucity of funds.

“Before this situation, some people went on a jamboree to Cameroon just for exhibition, no competition and they shared the money there. These boxers travelled on the road for three days, spent just one day there and they came back and gave each of the 12 boxers that went $350. They shared the N12m among themselves, the three of them (officials) that went.”

He said the boxers would gather at the National Stadium, Lagos on Thursday (today) to protest their non-participation in the qualifying tournament.

Speaking with our correspondent, Director of Federations, Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Tayo Oreweme, said the sports ministry did not release funds for the Dakar trip because the boxing federation could not justify their participation at the qualifiers.

“The boxing federation was tipped for the qualifying tournament (in Dakar) but in their own wisdom, they went to the one that was not a qualifier (Cameroon). By the time we had a meeting last Thursday, the NBF board member said the only boxing medal hopeful they had for the Olympics was Efetobor Apochi, who is in USA. He said they would ensure that he made it to the world qualifying tournament,” Oreweme said.

“Based on what they sent to me as the Secretary of the Tokyo 2020 Committee, I had already forwarded their request to the ministry. So, when the minister saw the request for money on Friday, he stated that if they had one boxer on the road to Tokyo, why were they requesting for funds for the African qualifiers.

“He queried that they had just used N12m for the Cameroon trip and wanted to go to Dakar and then come back with stories. We asked for N18bn and the government only assured us that they would give us N2bn, so we were not ready to give it to people who wanted to just go for trial and error.

“They have not been able to answer the minister on why they were taking 10 boxers to Dakar when they said they had only one medal hopeful for the Olympics,” she added.

President of the NBF Kenneth Minimah didn’t pick calls and also did not reply the message sent to him on the issue, as at the time of filing this report.

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