Gaborone-based Melroy Boxing Club is one of those responsible for the new revolution as it has produced reputable fighters, who include South Africa-based Kgotla Baeti.
The club was established in 2010 and focuses on promoting, training and the management of boxers. Melroy coach, Larona Francis said they have experience when it comes to professional boxing. Francis, talking about Baeti, said he has been having most of his fights in South Africa, although Batswana would love to see him fight locally.
“Baeti has worked with some of the top promoters in South Africa, Colin Nathan and Nick Durandt,” he said.
Baeti moved to Johannesburg to join Nathan as an amateur boxer in 2003 and he was the first amateur boxer to be admitted at the Hotbox Gym. Francis said the boxer was taken through professional boxing routines and then camps. The same year he relocated to Kwa Zulu Natal to obtain a professional boxing license in order to compete in South Africa. His first professional boxing fight was in 2004 in Pietermaritzburg.
Francis said Melroy is always training boxers and exports them to South Africa, where professional boxing is top class. The other boxer from the stable is Ryan Seakole, who was based in East London. Onkarabile Mothibedi and Robbie Botshelo also belong to the Melroy stable. There are three boxers set to join the club from amateur ranks. “Amateur clubs are our development sides and they appreciate it when their boxers join professional boxing clubs, where they are employed,” he said.
He said the return of Thuso Khubamang through his D’scud Promotions has changed the complexion of professional boxing in the country. He said that motivated them to host fights. Francis said being active in professional boxing has attracted promoters from outside the country to realize that Botswana has talent. Melroy promoter, Isaac Pheko said 2017 has been historic for professional boxing. He said other stables such as Bond Boxing Promotions organized fights early this year and then Melroy followed in September. Then Fox Sports had two more events, and the last is scheduled for December.
“Having five events in a year is a first for professional boxing. It shows growth and we need support from the business community. Our association is still limping financially, as assistance has been on the technical side,” Pheko said.
He said the demand for professional boxing is high from amateur boxers. He said there is need for Professional Boxing Association of Botswana to have proper structures, to be able to absorb young boxers, adding that managing an athlete is not easy.
“Boxing is a mainstream sport just like football, so we need more sponsors. For us, we are being assisted by Bokone Reticulation and Electrical Systems. It is tough for them and they need help from other companies,” he said.
Pheko said with enough resources, it is possible to have an African title in Botswana in 12 or 14 months. In less than two years, a world title is a possibility, he said.