Malawi’s decorated boxer Isaac ‘Golden Boy’ Chilemba has given up on his efforts to fight on home soil.
The former World Boxing Council (WBC) and International Boxing Federation (IBF) champion said he feels frustrated that his efforts to get government and corporate world support has not materialised since his initial proposal seven years ago.
The South Africa-based boxer left Malawi as an amateur boxer in 2003, but has always been having his bouts in the Rainbow Nation and overseas since he turned professional in 2005.
The 33-year-old, whose professional boxing record includes 26 wins (10TKOs), two draws and seven losses (one TKO), singled out sports ministers in the last seven years as the major stumbling blocks.
Then, the bout’s budget stood at K50 million and included workshops aimed at sharing his knowledge with local boxers and other stakekolders on how to professionalise the sport in the country.
“I have been pushing for this for years, but the responses I get are not convincing. I am tired of being told ‘we will come back to you’,” he said.
“Now, I feel it is just a waste of time and it is time to stop troubling people with my request for support.”
However, Minister of Youth and Sports Ulemu Msungama yesterday said if approached, his office is ready to sort out the matter with the former world champion.
“Like I have always said, my mission is to promote all sports disciplines in the country and Chilemba’s initiative is a welcome development only that he is yet to contact my office.
“Boxing is one of the disciplines that can put the country on the international map. That is why I recently convinced a company to buy us a boxing ring to promote the sport,” he said.
“Chilemba has not contacted my office and I may not answer for the previous ministers on how they treated the issue. If contacted, my office is willing because that’s what we need. We need people that have passion for sports. We will be happy to see his dream become a reality.”
Malawi Professional Boxing Control Board (MPBCB) president Lonzoe ‘Defector’ Zimba said they support Chilemba’s initiative and it is unfortunate that his wish continues to gather dust.
“We need to change our mindset that sport is football alone. Boxing is one of the disciplines that have put Malawi on the international map yet it tends to be ignored.
“He is not just another boxer. He is a former world champion who has been rated among the best for may years and we should feel proud of his achievements as a country.
“As MPBCB, we know Chilemba’s initiative can inspire and empower many youths and it needs to be fully supported by stakeholders,” he said.
Last year, Chilemba hinted at plans to hung up his gloves in the next few years when he told our sister paper, The Nation, that he is preparing for life after boxing by enrolling for higher education.
The light heavyweight boxer said he is currently studying astrophysics.
“When my boxing career is over, I would love to be an astrophysicist. So, I am studying to improve my mathematics having applied for astrophysics course at Wits University.
“I have also started training promising boxers,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chilemba is expected to take on Russian boxer Fedor Chudinov on February 20 in Moscow in an international Super middleweight fight.
The bout was initially scheduled for March last year but was postponed due to Covid-19. It was later shifted to September 2020 but it failed again after Chudinov and his management team agreed to a mutual termination of their contract.
Chilemba, who hails from Lunzu in Blantyre and spent his childhood days in Chilomoni Township, last fought in December 2019 when he beat another Russian Alexander Kubich on unanimous points decision in Russia.