Azania Omo-Agege (pictured) has officially taken over leadership of the Africa Boxing Confederation (AFBC), and in his first communication to national federations and the boxing fraternity on the continent, he has appealed for unity and transparency to speed up the development of the sport in the continent.
The Nigerian federation deputy president has replaced Bertrand Mendouga of Cameroon who resigned on his own volition due to what Azania said was unavoidable circumstances.
“I am very grateful to Mendouga for his cooperation in the handover process, he’s a gentleman,” said Azania.
Azania, who was AFBC’s 1st Vice President, was given the nod by the Board of Directors to succeed Mendouga on interim basis.
According to Azania, the elections for the president will take place in October during the Mandela Cup tournament in South Africa.
“I want to assure you all and the boxing fraternity in Africa as a whole that everything is moving on smoothly, and most importantly, let’s maintain our unity and cooperation,” said Azania.
“As the AFBC President I will do my best to take boxing to the next level. We have the potential, what we’re lacking are resources to be self sufficient.
“I will therefore strive to bring on board sponsors to complement the support we’re getting from the International Boxing Association (IBA) under the leadership of President Umar Kremlev whom we thank so much for his support.”
Azania lauded Kremlev’s contribution in the prize money for boxers in Africa Championships.
“For the first time in the history of the Africa Championships, boxers got prize money in last year’s tournament in Maputo,” noted Azania, adding:
“In this year’s championships in Yaounde, Kremlev doubled the prize money to $1,000,000 with boxers being paid from the quarter-finals. This meant even if some boxers failed to make it to the medal bracket they still earned $1,250 for qualifying for the quarters.
“I do understand there are some countries whose whose boxers have yet to be paid. I am assuring them AFBC is in the process of sending them their prize money. It’s their right.”
Azania said AFBC will continue to empower coaches, referees, judges and ITO’s because he appreciates their vital contribution in boxing development in Africa.
Said Azania: “Our plans to organise courses for referees, judges, coaches and ITO’s are on as well putting more emphasis on women’s boxing.
“I will work closely with the head of Women’s and Diversity Commission, Irene Ntelemo to see that her vision is fulfilled.
“I will also boost junior and youth boxing so that we have a strong foundation for a prosperous future in Africa boxing. There’s no way we will succeed if we overlook junior and youth boxing including the coaches working at the grassroots level.
“We will be having Star One course for referees and judges on the sidelines of the Mandela Cup tournament in South Africa in October.
“This is an important event mooted by IBA President Kremlev when we met him in Yaounde during the Africa Championships. I will be releasing more details on Mandela Cup in due course.”
Azania said they are also planning to improve the overall operations of AFBC to inject more professionalism in the management of boxing in the continent.
“I promise members and all stakeholders I will operate above board to ensure there’s transparency and accountability in all that we do. Our Secretary-General Andre Basile Kalong will continue serving us in this position and he’s also in charge of our headquarters office in Yaounde. So far he has done a commendable job.”
Meanwhile, Azania has appealed to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to give Africa more slots instead of the current 18 to be contested in the Olympic Games boxing qualifiers set for Dakar, Senegal from September 9-15.
“We will appreciate if IOC considers our appeal to have more slots. African boxers have been progressive in the Olympics and given more slots, they will perform better.”
Azania said he’s planning to meet with the President of Abuja-based Association of National Olympic Committees for Africa (ANOCA) chief, Mustapha Berraf to discuss this important issue.
ANOCA, formed on June 28, 1981 in Lome, Togo, brings together the 54 African National Olympic Committees.
In the Dakar Africa Olympic Games qualifiers, women will fight for 11 slots and seven for men as shown below.
Women’s weight classes
Men’s weight classes
Credit: AFBC Communications