Three Malawi boxers have been disqualified from the African Union Sports Council Region 5 Games—currently underway in Angola—for being over-aged, leader of delegation Joseph Mazaza has confirmed.
The barred boxers are Abdul Chitepete, Limbani Paudala and Brighton Ntcheni, while Hannock Phiri is the only one who has passed to fight.
The four boxers are among 32 Malawian athletes at the games where 10 countries are vying for medals.
“The three boxers were out of the youth bracket of between 17 and 18 years. In boxing there are three categories according to age: junior is for those aged 16 and below, the youth category is for boxers that are between 17 and 18 years and the senior category which is 19 years and above,” he said.
Mazaza said even though the disqualified boxers were eligible for the senior category, they could not compete still because they were registered to fight in the youth category.
He blamed the disqualification on the Games organisers and the boxing confederation, which has been assigned to manage boxing at the event, for not spelling out the rules before the competition was staged.
“There are a number of stages where things were not checked starting with the organising committee, boxing confederation and the sport discipline itself. You don’t come to the games and you are given technical rules there when all along you were agreeing on other issues,” he said.
Mazaza said in all the preparatory meetings held from March to October 2016 it was being reported that the games are for the under 20s.
“[During these meetings] the issue of boxing was raised and the response was that these are under 20 youth games. The organisers received all entries from countries and they did not point out that these are over-aged. In the accreditation report this was not even indicated as an error,” he said.
“Last minute Boxing Confederation came and said they are owners of boxing and they will stick to their international rules of boxing. To them, in these Games youth boxers fall within the age bracket of 17 and 18 years. Anyone outside those age brackets was not registered.”
Reacting to the disqualifications, Malawi Boxing Association of Malawi president Justice Katika said the boxers’ selection criteria could be the cause.
“Government did not consult Maba which could have helped to advise on who and who to pick because we are more knowledgeable about the rules. It is sad that we have missed a chance to give our boxers exposure,” he said.
Malawi has been faring badly at the competition and the disqualifications only fade the country’s hopes of winning more medals. n