SASCOC to resurrect boxing
Johannesburg - South Africa's amateur boxing squad will leave for a two-week training camp in Havana, Cuba on Tuesday as part of the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee's (SASCOC) efforts to revitalise the sport.
SASCOC president Gideon Sam said on Monday the group of 10 young fighters, all national champions, would have their sights set on preparing for the All Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique in September and qualifying for the Olympic Games in London next year.
"At the Beijing Olympics in 2008, we had only one boxer who qualified (Jackson Chauke) and just he was sent there to compete," Sam said.
"He was knocked out in the first round and we realised we needed to increase the intensity and make sure the guys were given more opportunities.
"All we want this year is for these boxers to qualify for London, because the more guys who qualify, the more chances we will have to succeed."
The SA National Defence Force had come on board to identify a group of promising fighters, with the long term focus on the 2016 and 2020 Games, and a new boxing High Performance Centre would be launched in August in Bloemfontein, according to Sam, as efforts were increased to improve the nation's status in the amateur sport.
"We have had a number of world champions in the professional ranks, and there must be a reason for that," he said.
"So many of those guys came from the amateur ranks, so we need to figure out where we're lacking."
The 10 squad members, joined by SA coaches Nkosinathi Hlatshwayo and Andile Mofu, would be hosted by the Havana Boxing Federation, SASCOC said in a statement.
They would have a golden opportunity to learn from some of Cuba's top coaches after their hosts produced four silver and four bronze medals at the Beijing Olympics.
A Cuban coach would also accompany the squad back to South Africa to assist them in their build-up to the London Games.
"I can say that there is definitely medal potential in this team," Mofu said.
The squad, ranging in age from 19 to 24, would work on developing skills and technique during the two-week camp.
"Our next big competition is the All Africa Games and hopefully we'll see the benefits there already," Mofu said.