8th June, 2012
Respected boxing coach and former trainer of Lagos State boxing team, Joe Mensah, in this interview with Boxing In Focus scored high boxing coaches in the country. He also spoke about the positive impact of Ibile Games and Saturday Monthly Boxing Show on the development of boxing in Lagos State.
What is your take on the Monthly Saturday Boxing Show?
The Monthly Saturday Boxing Show has come to stay. It is also a build-up for Team Lagos as they prepare for the coming National Sports Festival which will hold in the state later in the year. The fact is that boxing had been in comatose in the state before the introduction of the monthly event. But the sport has been revived since the arrival of the show. To be honest, I don’t think Lagos State could have won so much medals at the Garden City Games without the show. Aside from this, the show has pulled a lot of crowd over time.
Do you agree with the opinion of some people that the standard of the show has nosedived?
I don’t subscribe to the opinion that the standard of the show has nosedived. The point is that the organisers of the show cannot continue to feature the best boxers at an event like this if their goal is to develop the sport in the state. And the objective of the organisers of the show is to discover new talents that will replace the established ones in the state. The same applies to Ibile Games which has also come to stay because it is a grassroot programme. We now have a situation where the champions at Ibile Games will trade punches with champions at the Hall of Fame. This move will no doubt add quality and competition to the sport in the state. For instance, this festival will be the last edition which Olaide Fijabi can feature. How can we now get replacement for Fijabi and the likes if the younger ones are not given the privilege to develop their talents.
How can the boxing clubs in Lagos State be assisted?
These clubs are alright even though they are all struggling to stand on their feet. But I think they will now receive more attention from the LGAs and LCDAs in which they are situated due to the arrival of Ibile Games. Most of these clubs train in the stadium because there are no gyms in their various LGAs and LCDAs. But I think the LGAs and LCDAs will begin to build gyms in their constituencies since they will feature these boxers at subsequent Ibile Games. As a veteran in this sport, I say we don’t have a single gym in the country. It is when we have a gym that we will start worrying about how to upgrade it to international standard. How do you expect somebody who trains under the bridge to make much impact in the sport. In fact, the coaches are really trying their best considering the atmosphere in which they carry out their duties.
How do you feel about the build-up to the London 2012 Olympic Games?
I will not beat about the bush over this issue. Nigeria will not win any medal at the London Olympics if nothing is done to address the lack of trainning facilities at the Etete Camp in Benin City. To be honest, my experience with the boxers in that camp is based on what I have upstairs. For instance, how do you expect the boxers to train in a situation where there is no head gears, sparring gloves and the likes? I enjoin sports journalists in the country to pay a visit to Etete to see what the boxers are training with in the camp.
The fact is that you don’t gain when you don’t invest. And if you don’t sow you can’t reap. It is what you sow that you will reap.