The human race loves seeing people fighting. They just can’t help but see a bit of blood spill.
It began in the Roman Empire where Colosseums, were filled with people just to watch boxing.
In ancient times boxing was not refined but brutally violent.
But just like now, people could pay huge sums just to watch people fighting.
When you speak with boxing experts such as Henry Sakala of Malawi Olympic Committee, Lonzoe Zimba of Malawi Professional Boxing Control Board (MPBC) and renowned boxing trainer Lt Colonel Godfrey Jalare, they will tell you that Malawi had one of the finest boxers on the continent
“Thousands of people from around the country could gather at Kamuzu Stadium to witness two boxers clobbering each other. The fights were broadcast live on radios just like it is with football. The situation is no longer the same,” said Sakala.
Companies could buy broadcasting rights for fights during those days to watch legends.
“We had great boxers then in the late 1980s such as Tatu Chionga, King Marshal Jetu, Magnet Beka, Philemon Ayesu, Peter Ayesu, Justice ‘Crazy Muscles’ Mahilasi and Schoolboy ‘Shasha’ Masamba.
“These were crowd pullers and the stadium could be fully packed. These were skilled boxers. Boxing is an art that the most skilled people can master and these people were masters,” said Sakala.
He said companies like Unilever (Lever Brothers) Chibuku Products Limited and David White Head were into boxing, sponsoring fights and buying rights.
Boxing, according to Sakala, has gone through some drastic changes.
He attributed this to lack of many ‘flash or brash’ boxers in the ring.
“We are lacking in someone like a Marshal Jetu who would throw large and ridiculously quick combinations, or Shasha Masamba, who would have that typical endurance spirit by taking a barrage of punches and then refusing to go down, and Ayesu, who brought a style of fighting that only he could emulate,” said Sakala reminiscing on the good old days.
Boxing nearly took resurgence in 2010, and 2011 with the emergence of Wilson Masamba, Kenneth Chinthenga, Jobson Adams, Mussa Ajibu and Osgood Kayuni.
Venues like Motel Paradise and Lilongwe Community Centre Ground were full again as boxing took a leap.
Zimba attributed this to the coming of promoters Mike Chilewe and Mike Chitenje who pumped in money into the sport.
But this popularity was short-lived.
“Most promoters do not have corporate backing and this makes it difficult for them to hold tournaments. At the same time, there is little money to motivate boxers,” said Zimba.
Sakala blamed the decline in the sport to lack of serious and entertaining boxers.
“The main reason for this today is that the pre-fight hype, whereby boxers simply aren’t living up to the expectations that they set themselves as well as the fans.
“Boxers of old were popular not only because they knew how to throw big punches or fast combinations, but more, due to the fact that they had belief in the sport and were entertaining in the ring,” said Sakala.
No Pain No Gain CEO Craig Rousseau believes the country is rich in talent, but the limiting factor is that the corporate world is not forthcoming.
“We are not sitting down. We are not backing up just because sponsors are not coming forward to assist us in the way we would expect, we are sticking to what we have pledged to keep Malawi on the map of boxing and to continue supporting our abundance of local talent, “ said Rousseau.
He cited boxers such as Chikondi Makawa and Chrispine Moliati as full of potential if well supported. n