Five Liberian kids in the persons of Hawa Kortee, Diana Rally, Ringsiale Rally, Jousah Galarkpai and Emmnauel Allen are presently being prepared for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina, according to the Liberia Boxing Association.
And due to the lack of support to the development of boxing in the country, I visited the national boxing gym on Broad Street and have at least a firsthand account about the preparation.
The training is from Monday to Friday at 4:30pm; and is under the supervision of Coach Arku Kortee and his deputy Marcus Mitchell.
There is nothing attractive about the gym, much more boxing that President Solomon T. Davis will insist boxing still has a life in this country.
First thing, the gym is filthy. The only surviving boxing ring is still waiting in the gym, broken. There is a big hole in the middle of the ring and it is not fit for any one, let alone children at ages from 14-17 to use to train for an international competition like the Olympic Games.
And as if the executive committee members of the boxing association have lost their glasses, there is nothing to thank anyone about since boxing, like many other sports, is dead already.
“The executive committee of the Liberia Boxing Association has manifested its thanks and appreciation to the LNOC for the opportunity afforded the five athletes,” was the lame release sent to the Liberia National Olympic Committee.
When was the last time any official of the LNOC and anyone who cares about boxing visited the gym? I am referring to the Baby Joe House of Pain?
Coach Arku Kortee may be itching to travel but he must realize that with the current status of boxing and with nothing much to be proud of he would likely get nothing from the young people he swears he is training.
Let me remind him of this: In the last Olympic Games in London, the LNOC took a young Karate/Taekwondo athlete to represent Liberia in that discipline.
Without proper supervision, the time came and the athlete joined the team with a couple of officials, including one of course from the Ministry of Youth & Sports. The minister at the time was Samson T. Varpillah.
It was after the Liberian delegation arrived at the scene of the Olympics before it was discovered that the athlete they had taken along could not, and had never fought in that particular discipline.
Imagine the embarrassment when LNOC officials could not explain to their counterparts why they chose a wrong athlete for the tournament. The truth was that the unfortunate athlete, like the five young kids, never had a good training. And with a broken ring and filthy gym, the five young athletes would not have any quality training. They will not know how to meet an opponent in a competition and fear will destroy any of their determination to make it. This is because in other countries, athletes are prepared better, of we don’t.
The lone London guy was overwhelmed with the idea that he could make it, and without official and technical collaboration helped to disgrace and humiliate the Liberian Olympic team.
Another one is just beginning and unless someone somewhere with the responsibility to make things work better decide to do something about it, this too shall pass and in the embarrassment will be brushed under the carpet, like the London disgrace was done, and we will wait for another Olympic Games to mess up.