With just three weeks before the end of the 2020/21 financial year, government is yet to fulfil its pledge to buy four boxing rings despite allocating funds through Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS) for the same.
Sports Council allocated K20 million to Malawi Boxing Association (Maba) for the acquisition of the rings to replace the ones which have been in use for over a decade.
The rings were supposed to be allocated to Maba’s four regional chapters.
Minister of Youth and Sports Ulemu Msungama also announced last year that he had secured a ring through a sponsor which would be delivered at least by the end of last year, but the promise has also not been fulfilled.
MNCS sports development manager Ruth Mzengo attributed the delay to procure the rings to transportation challenges on the part of the supplier.
“The supplier is facing transportation challenges, otherwise the rings were already purchased.
“However, we cannot tell exactly when the rings will be delivered, but we are working on that. For now, they [Maba] can be using the old ones as we await delivery of the new ones,” she said.
On his part, Msungama said: “I just need to check with the sponsor. I still believe that they will honour the promise. Give me some time to contact them.”
Maba president Pyson Likagwa said they have been eagerly waiting for Sports Council to provide the rings.
He said: “The situation is now a crisis as the old rings have outlived their life span and are injury risk to boxers.
“We were assured by the council that the rings would be bought last year, but they are yet to be delivered.
“Actually, we have been reminding them, but they keep on telling us to wait. This is a big setback and the situation is affecting the development of the sport in the country.”
Malawi Professional Boxing Control Board director of research and information Gibson Chisale said it is unfortunate and embarrassing that the country cannot host international bouts because of substandard facilities such as rings.
“It is sad that despite funds being allocated towards procurement of rings, they have not been bought,” he said.
In 2016 No Pain No Gain, a boxing stable, had to hire a ring from Oriental Quarries Boxing Promotions of Zambia during the African Boxing Union title fights at Bingu International Convention Centre.
Boxing clubs have not been spared the predicament either as Weekend Nation has also established that apart from ring shortages, boxing clubs lack basic training equipment such as gloves, punching bags, skipping ropes and treadmills.
Some Maba boxing clubs that Weekend Nation visited in Mzuzu and Blantyre, use sacks filled with sand as punching bags.
Mzuzu Prison Boxing Club coach McBerth Wasambo, said: “Lack of equipment is hampering my dream of producing top boxers. Imagine we literally do not have any equipment here. We use sacks full of sand as punching bags and even the gloves are completely worn out.”
Top female boxer Anisha Bashir camps in Zimbabwe whenever she has an international fight so as to benefit from good equipment.
Her Zimbabwe-based manager Clyde Musonda of Delta Force Boxing Academy said: “The first thing I observed in Malawi was that there is lack of proper boxing equipment. A boxing club must have a good gym complete with boxing ring, punching bags and treadmills. That is why I take Malawi boxers to Zimbabwe so that they can use good boxing facilities.” n