Kamanya refuses to go down without a fight
Salute Boxing Academy announced its arrival last year with aplomb, amid expectations that the new stable would give rival, MTC Nestor Sunshine Tobias Boxing Academy, a run for its money.
A year down the line, Salute Boxing Academy seems to be struggling to reach the dizzy heights in boxing that it promised boxing fans. To make matters worse, the academy was suspended in July by the Namibia Boxing and Wrestling Control Board over allegations of violent conduct at a boxing bonanza that was held in Walvis Bay in June.
The suspension was, however, lifted last week by the newly constituted Namibian Professional Boxing and Wrestling Control Board (NPBWCB).
Prior to the establishment of Salute Boxing Academy in July last year, its owner and executive chairman, Kiriat Kamanya, had been involved with several academies since 1989, including the MTC Nestor ‘Sunshine’ Boxing and Fitness Academy where he was a board member.
Establishing a boxing academy was never part of his plans until some boxers pleaded with him to consider opening an academy.
Kamanya was born and raised in the Oukwaluthi district in the northern region of Namibia and grew up in Oshakati before coming to Windhoek where he has made a name for himself in business circles.
The Windhoek Observer sports reporter Jesse Jackson Kauraisa (JJK) met up with Kamanya (KK) to discuss about the academy’s future, successes and challenges.
JJK: Would you say that the academy has made progress since its formation last year?
KK: Yes, I believe so because as a young academy we have managed to stage several fights including a world title fight.
The academy has made great strides by taking so many boxers off the streets and turning them into great professional fighters. Our academy has also managed to ensure that the boys remain disciplined even outside the ring.
JJK: What do you think has been Salute’s biggest challenge?
KK: My biggest challenge has been sponsors, because in Namibia we do not get that much support from the corporate world.
However, there are some companies who have helped us, but we wish that more could come on board going into the future.
JJK: The academy has received a lot of negative press coverage since its launch. Do you think such criticism is fair?
KK: Some of the media have been very positive towards us and I appreciate the way they have covered our events.
However, it goes without saying that I have been victimised by some of the papers and I do not think that is fair at all.
We are all here to help Namibians prosper and to reduce poverty, but some journalists have a different perception about us.
JJK: How has been the public’s response to your academy since its formation?
KK: The fans have been incredible and one would be really stupid if you do not thank them for the support they have given to the academy since we started.
There have been times where our events have attracted up to 4000 people a night, which is something very special to us that we have to appreciate.
JJK: Most of the fighters within your stable are said to be spent forces, people who are past their prime; do you have any youth development plans in place?
KK: We do have young guys who are training at the Soweto Boxing Academy, which has been our main partner and friend since we started. Yes, we do have plans of bringing more talent on board by going to all regions across Namibia and selecting the best upcoming boxers. Boxing has been my passion and I believe I will be able to save the lives of many young people if I can continue with my dream.
JJK: There have been reports that you and the people at MTC Nestor Sunshine Tobias Academy don’t see eye to eye. If these reports are true, why is it so?
KK: I don’t know why they tried to fight me and that is why I have never exchanged any words with them. I believe as boxing promoters, we all have to work together for the sake of the people and that is why I encourage anyone with the same idea to go forward and open their academy.
JJK: The Namibian Professional Boxing and Wrestling Control Board recently lifted your suspension from boxing. How difficult was it for the academy during the suspension period, and do you think the suspension was justified?
KK: It was a stressful time because the boxers were very worried about the situation and kept asking me what is going to happen, however, I knew that this suspension was not going to last because we are honest people who did nothing wrong. The thing is, if you are honest and find yourself in a situation where people judge your honesty, God will make a way to justify your honesty.
JJK: Where do you see your academy in five years’ time?
KK: Five years from now, my stable will create more champions for Namibia because I know how my operation is doing. I will not say it will be the biggest academy in Namibia, but I would say it will be one of the best in the country.
We want to stage mega fights and also have proper infrastructure like a world-class gym and many other facilities, which will put us at the top.