15 December 2012

Zambia: Bravo, Kanyanta and Co!


LET me begin this week's column by congratulating under-20 national boxing coach Kennedy Kanyanta and his lads for reaping five medals- three gold and two silver in the Zone Six Games which end on Monday.

Zambia won gold through a near-tragedy when hard-punching, raging Mbachi Kaonga flattened his Botswana rival Kenneth Okwoleng in round two in a middleweight contest resulting in Okwoleng being stretchered to the hospital.

The other golds came from team captain Charles Lumbwe and Ben Sakutamba. Lumbwe defeated Jonas Junior in a light welterweight contest 25-19, while welterweight Sakutamba won a tight duel that needed five judges who scored it 54-47 for the Zambian after the computerized scoring had it 11-11.

Light welterweight Lawrence Mukuta and Caristo Bwalya brought silver after they lost to their rivals Lerato Dhlamini of South Africa (19-25) and Lesotho's Suntele Inkululeko (referee stopped contest) in the third round due to bleeding by Bwalya.

Kanyanta's dream of winning medals was certainly not far-off the mark and is a reflection of the painstaking effort he and his technical bench put in to drill the boxers from the low caliber Kanyanta had complained about some of them to somewhat refined quality fighters worthy of the accolades.

The wonderful performance means several things to all stakeholders. For his part, Kanyanta has proved that his hey-day fists are as good as his coaching skills. For the boxers, pride and joy is theirs while Zambia's flag has been raised higher to the envy of all and sundry.

It appeared clear from the beginning that the boxers were not going to come up short of the much coveted medals, if all mainstream media reports this past week were anything to go by.

Kanyanta remained optimistic that, despite an earlier defeat, Lumbwe was not only man enough, but would rise to the occasion to deliver gold. After a successful day one in which all three boxers won, Zambia was victorious in two of the three bouts on day two.

Meanwhile, last week's column titled: "Boxers' Sos: FQM Responds," received a reaction from Chabu Mundubwe of Kasama, who writes: "Having just finished reading your Ring Talk column, what comes to mind is that FQM is just after cheap publicity because where were they when Kanyanta and team almost failed to travel to Tanzania for a boxing tournament?" Chabu was referring to earlier reports of government's belated release of K135 million for the trip.

To recap, I said in the column that I was particularly elated by the awesomely positive response I received from First Quantum Minerals (FQM) to last week's piece titled: "Another boxer seeks sponsorship" in which I wrote about Kitwe-based budding boxers Agrippa Tembo and Sarah Nyoni who, separately, sought sponsorship from me to further their ambitions.

Davies Mulenga, FQM Public relations consultant, said his organisation was willing and ready to assist the two boxers and explained that the company's interest in them was because of the "strong and neat fit between FQM's commitment to ensuring that benefits from the mineral wealth of the nation flow in a significant and sustainable manner to the majority of Zambians."

He said FQM's approach to positively re-cast minor sports served as a precursor to how sports in general can rapidly progress to a level where Zambia can start gunning for Olympic medals, adding, "that might be a reality in the near-future - thanks to attention FQM is giving the sponsor-starved sports disciplines."

I sought a comment from Mulenga on Mundubwe's remarks and this is what he said. "K150 billion investment in various corporate social responsibility CSR programmes, of which sport is one of them, can hardly be described as a "cheap" publicity-seeking exercise.

"The reader should engage with us so that he becomes acquainted with the positive and sustainable influence FQM is having in the lives of ordinary Zambians. That work has been validated by the various accolades FQM has received in that area, the latest being ranked first among mining companies in Canada's 2012 Best 50 Corporate Citizens."

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