Mark Namanya

The bad news for Ugandan boxing was clear on Friday

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Nassab (right) connects to a bloodied Odeke in their title fight on Friday.

Nassab (right) connects to a bloodied Odeke in their title fight on Friday. The Iranian won in six rounds. PHOTO BY Ismail Kezaala 

By Mark Namanya

Posted  Monday, August 12  2013 at  01:00

Some will say the actual showdown took place Saturday morning despite being penciled in as a Friday night fight. That could well be the only point of contention.

What can’t be contested by any scale or measure is that the abyss that has swallowed amateur boxing is deep. The sweet science is being blown by wind these days and is nowhere. It is neither here nor there. Boxing in the country is in a mist.

Kenneth ‘Bad News’ Odeke has already been written off as a fighter of no talent to elevate his value in the sport. Those verdicts, shared by many after his horror-show against Iranian Abbas Nassab, only told half the story.

The young man is a work in progress. But sometimes sport can be cruel. The fans who braved the night were hoping to see Odeke walk the talk by knocking out Nassab early. But after witnessing the opposite at 2.36am, they drew conclusions after palpable disappointment.
Odeke’s defeat exposed the disharmony in boxing that has left the sport on its deathbed. He rushed into turning professional perhaps owing to a lack of competition at amateur level. Odeke was rushed into walking before he could crawl.

We can blame him all we like for Friday’s nightmarish show; the lack of a jab, the poor movement, the ill-advised slugfest, poor footwork and a suspect defence. Yes, all those were evident against Nassab but they can be traced to poor honing as an amateur.

Increasingly, it is becoming fashionable for young boxers to fail to resist the urge of turning semi-professional. A good number are killing their potential by entering semi-professional boxing raw. That group has ended up producing journeymen.

The administrative squabbling that has taken forever in amateur boxing came to the fore in the Odeke-Nassib one-sided bout. Blaming Odeke is missing the point. Boxing needs to get its house in order.

The lack of structured competition has led to a dearth of young talented fighters. It is the reason why young men like Odeke are making barefaced decisions to join professional boxing when they are evidently raw and still learning the sweet science.
There are many other Odekes out there living in hope than expectation of professional boxing. It is foolhardy to ignore the basics of amateur boxing when you harbour hopes of a professional career.

There have been notable developments in boxing today; we have live televised fights, the number of promoters swells by the day and boxers have perfected the art of talking a big game.

That is all good and something to be celebrated. But it will all come to zilch if we do not get the most important aspect right - nurturing and developing young boxers to learn the art of the sport.

A winter World Cup will not enhance Fifa’s legacy

When the old men at Fifa voted for Qatar to win the right to host the 2022 World Cup, few people could have anticipated the extensive debates that would ensure in the aftermath.

As it is, the football world continues to ponder questions whose questions can’t be readily figured out. Qatar’s presentation in the bidding process was for a 2022 summer World Cup. But with temperatures going as high as 50 degrees, it is unlikely that the tournament will be played in such conditions.

So the other option for Qatar and Fifa is to stage the biggest showpiece in the game in winter. There are far-reaching ramifications if such a radical decision were to be passed by the men in Zurich.

Football calendars in the majority of the Fifa nations would have to be thought again to free the months of winter for the football to be possible. The whole process would be tedious, daunting and unfortunate.

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