By Michael Benjamin
One week before the Annual General Meeting of the Guyana Amateur Boxing Association (GABA), slated for February 12, Parliamentary Secretary, Steve Ninvalle, has confirmed his intentions of contesting for the Presidential seat of the beleaguered organization.
Head of the McNeal Enterprise, boxing promoter, Odinga Lumumba, informed media operatives of this development while bestowing his blessing on the former journalist.
Lumumba noted that amateur boxing has been at its lowest for the past 10 years and there was a need for revival.
He said that the person to lead GABA out of its present mire should be innovative, intelligent and posses the capacity to influence the corporate community and procure adequate funding to address boxing programmes. “Ninvalle is the man,” Lumumba assured.
He scoffed at suggestions that Khan possessed the fervor and capacity to procure adequate sponsorship to lift the sport from its present quagmire.
“We need to differentiate between minimal and real support,” he said. “What are needed are not a handout here and a handout there,” Lumumba argued. He said that the issue of sponsorship is just a microcosm of the wider issues that beg attention. “We need to revisit past strategies with an aim of building on them. We also need to focus on the organisation of local tournaments, the resuscitation of the Cuban Goodwill tournaments, overseas training programmes. Without such innovations we will continue to wallow in mediocrity,” Lumumba asserted.
Responding to the views of the pundits that Ninvalle’s elevation to the post will politicise the sport, Lumunba indicated a similar situation in neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago where FIFA Vice President, Jack Warner is an integral force in the international football arena yet he is an integral force in Trinidad’s politics. “Warner is a staunch politician yet he continues to be the most prolific sports administrator in the region,” Lumumba argued.
He also said that he has noted that ever since Obama’s entry into the White House there has been an impassioned appeal for change in almost every sector. “There is nothing wrong with change but that change must be for the better not just to see new faces,” Lumumba said.
He then reiterated that Ninvalle has the acumen to lift amateur boxing from its dismal state.
Meanwhile, Kaieteur Sport sought a comment from Ninvalle. He endorsed his intention to contest for the position and ascribed to adopt an all-inclusive policy towards the development of the sport. Ninvalle admitted that Guyana has a great stock of boxers but noted the need to groom them in the correct way.
He noted that Guyanese boxers were at their fighting best when this country enjoyed fruitful bilateral relations with Cuba.
He said that if elected his first objective would be to commence discussions with Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture, Frank Anthony towards the resuscitation of this initiative.
“I am not certain what stalled the programme but to my mind there is a need to have it restarted,’ Ninvalle declared.
Ninvalle has been a journalist before becoming a political activist and he said that he has a hands-on knowledge of the challenges faced by amateur boxers. “I want to help and once elected to the helm I will immediately dedicate my energies towards structured programmes for the betterment of amateur boxing,” Ninvalle said.
If Ninvalle should ascend the GABA throne, he must first convince the gyms that he has their best interest at heart. He must also demonstrate the capacity to deal with the critical issue of funding.
Ninvale’s rival, the incumbent Affeeze Khan has been criticized for employing dictatorial tendencies in his administration of amateur boxing.
However, one of his main achievements is the resuscitation of several gyms right across the country. Khan has also boasted of his ability to procure funding to address local and overseas engagements for the boxers. During his watch, several key administrators had resigned or had no confidence motions against them, upheld.
In defense of his tactics, Khan had pointed out that the officials were subjected to a democratic process before they were found guilty and subsequently removed from the executive body.
Despite the barbs thrown at him from the many quarters, Khan is adamant that he has done more than enough to earn another term. Ninvalle has also exuded confidence of acceding to the helm. Come next week, the boxers will have the final say in the matter.
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