13th October, 2010
As Nigerian boxers failed to impress at the ongoing Commonwealth Games in India, exÂ professionalÂ Â boxer turned boxing coach, Oluwafemi Sholanke told ADEBOBOLA ALAWODE thatÂ the National Sports Commission, NSC should be held responsible for the boxers flop
The five boxers that represented Nigeria in the boxing event of the Commonwealth GamesÂ couldnâ€™t get to the medals zone, how do you feel?
Asking me how I feel will be like you asking me the obvious. I feel bad to my bone marrowÂ because I never envisage that the boxers would be humiliated the way they wereÂ humiliated. The boxers left the country with high hopes of doing well but it turned outÂ to be a nightmare for them.
Did you know that the boxers were not going to do well?
Iâ€™m not a prophet of doom so I wonâ€™t say I knew they were not going to do well, but itÂ was crystal clear that the boxers were not ready. They were not adequately prepared forÂ the Games because the NSC was being selfish with the release of funds for the NigeriaÂ Boxing Federation, NBF. The boxers were suppose to embark on a training tour but the NSCÂ didnâ€™t make available the money hence the poor showing we had.
Are you saying that the NSC should be blamed for the flop?
Yes, the NSC should be held responsible for the boxersâ€™ poor showing because if theÂ boxers had embarked on the training tour it would have helped in exposing them to latestÂ boxing techniques. The camping that they had in Edo State was good but the facilities areÂ nothing to write home about, compared to the facilities that they would have used if theyÂ had went on the training tour.
But some associations didnâ€™t go on training tour and they still won medals?
I quite agree with you but those that have won medals in other sports did it themselves.Â Amateur boxing has gone scientific in all ramifications; there are a lot of things thatÂ went wrong in the buildup to the Commonwealth Games.Â If the players had gone on theÂ training tour they would have had the opportunity to learn from their EuropeanÂ counterparts. Fighting against their European counterparts would have opened the eyes ofÂ the coaches to the weaknesses and strengths of the boxers.
Would you subscribe to the fact that since the boxers failed then the coaches alsoÂ failed?
It is yes and no because if the team was successful the coaches gets all the praises andÂ now that they failed the bulk also stops on his table.
What do you think should be done for amateur boxing to develop in Nigeria?
First the government has to create an enabling environment by building gym in theÂ geo-political zones of the country; employ coaches that would be monitoring the progressÂ of selected boxers and also organize competitions regularly to keep amateur boxers fitÂ before major competitions.
Some people said the reason Nigerian boxers also fail in major competitions is becauseÂ they are malnourished?
That is true; those are things that we must always take into consideration when we areÂ going for competitions. The administrators must always have nutritionist; it is theÂ nutritionist, who would know what to feed the boxers with, meals that would stamina toÂ the boxers and other things.
The Olympics is around the corner, what is your advice to the Nigeria Boxing Federation,Â NBF?
They have to make early preparations their keyword because if they fail to prepare theÂ boxers very well it would show in their performance. A boxer, who is well prepared wonâ€™tÂ be afraid of his opponent but an unprepared boxer will find it hard to hold his groundÂ whenever he steps into the ring.
Since you quit boxing, you have been coaching; do you think Nigeria has boxers that areÂ very good?
Point of correction I have not stopped boxing because as a boxing coach when you areÂ training someone, it would be as if you are fighting the person. When the person is notÂ listening to instruction, you have to hit him. Nigeria has talented boxers but it is allÂ about the administrators. In Ghana they stage amateur tournaments every weekend but sameÂ cannot be said of Nigeria. If our boxers get regular competitions I bet you we would be aÂ force to reckon with again in boxing.
Do you have any plans of coaching the national team?
Yes, that is my target I want to pay my dues before to the federal level, as of now Iâ€™m aÂ Lagos State coach and after serving at the state level I know they would come for me atÂ the federal level.