THE Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, Kirsty Coventry, is aware of the plight local professional boxers are facing and is pushing for the financial empowerment of institutions responsible for sport development.
Minister Coventry was the guest of honour at a reception function for new World Boxing Organisation Africa welterweight champion Brendon “Boika” Denes on Thursday.
The 25-year-old Denes, who hails from the Charles Manyuchi Academy, overcame Mikka Shonena of Namibia at the Windhoek Country Club Resort on December 12.
Denes defied all the odds by defeating the highly fancied Namibian who went into the fight undefeated in 16 fights.
Coventry lauded Denes’ achievement before revealing her desire to improve the welfare of sports personalities.
“Ladies and gentleman, I am aware of the various challenges affecting local sport in general and boxing in particular. Chief among the issues is the underfunding and limited investment in the sector.
“This has resulted in many of our professional boxers failing to focus on the sport and engaging in other activities in order to make a living,” Minister Coventry said.
“This has impacted negatively on the quality of our boxing and the level of competence of many of our professional boxers.
“Let me impress upon the fact that my ministry is making frantic efforts to make sure that we empower the institutions which are responsible for sport development in order to improve their capacities.”
Denes and his entourage, which included trainer Allie Phiri and match maker Clyde Musonda, almost traveled by road to Namibia until a local businessman chipped in with airfares.
Minister Coventry promised to look into the issues, although she emphasised her ministry’s limitations with regards to professional boxers.
“Brendon Denes’ victory has lifted the spirits of many within the fraternity and indeed across the nation. 2020 has been a difficult year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is further proof that boxing is a very low-hanging fruit and can take the nation to glory in the field of sport. The win by Boika is a very welcome development for the entire nation,” Minister Coventry said.