A Rising Hook

Ethiopian Boxing Soars Towards Brighter Prospects

Boxing is a popular sport in Ethiopia. Unfortunately, it has faced challenges due to inadequate budgeting and a limited number of yearly competitions. Only a few individuals have dedicated their efforts to popularizing Boxing in Ethiopia, often without sufficient support from stakeholders. However, there is now a glimmer of hope on the horizon. The recent election of Eyasu Wossen as the new president of the African Boxing Federation brings optimism. EBR’s Dr. Brook Genene takes a closer look at the current state of the sport in the country.

Wende, a passionate boxing enthusiast, has poured his heart and soul into sculpting his body at the gym. He has been intimately involved with the sport for five years, dreaming of becoming a professional boxer. However, his aspirations were short-lived due to the meagre salary he received. Frustrated, he reflects, “Boxing isn’t a hobby; it demands unwavering commitment. You must train rigorously and nourish your body properly.”

Despite stepping away from competitive Boxing, Wende remains an ardent follower of tournaments, yearning for brighter days ahead. His love for the sport persists, fueled by the hope of witnessing positive changes.

Boxing, while less popular than football and athletics, still commands a significant fans in Ethiopia. Fans flock to arenas in droves whenever a tournament occurs, creating an electric atmosphere. Remarkably, Ethiopia has a rich history of participation in Boxing at the Olympics, having competed in nine different editions. However, the last time Ethiopian boxers graced the Olympic stage was 16 years ago, in Beijing. The absence of recent Olympic representation in Boxing has left enthusiasts eagerly awaiting the return of Ethiopian pugilists to the global sporting spotlight.

Exciting developments have unfolded in Ethiopian Boxing, as Eyasu Wossen, a renowned figure in the sport and chairman of the Omotic business group, emerged victorious in the November elections to become the president of the African Boxing Federation. This remarkable achievement places Eyasu alongside esteemed Ethiopian sports leaders such as Yidnekachew Tessema, president of CAF, and Dagmawit Girmay, president of the Badminton Federation, as the third Ethiopian to hold a prestigious continental role in sports. With Eyasu at the helm, the future of Ethiopian Boxing appears poised for transformation, igniting a sense of anticipation and enthusiasm among the country’s boxing enthusiasts and athletes alike.

“With Eyasu’s election, I anticipate a significant increase in budget allocation for boxing and a surge in the number of available tournaments,” says Cazo, a prominent boxing promoter. He highlights the challenge faced by Ethiopian boxers— a lack of regular competition. According to Cazo, the scarcity of local tournaments and the delay between international competitions put Ethiopian athletes at a disadvantage, as their opponents continue to hone their skills in frequent matches. “Our athletes finish an international tournament, only to find themselves without another one on the horizon. Meanwhile, their counterparts from other countries are already gearing up for their next bout just weeks away,” he emphasizes.

Having served as the president of the Ethiopian Boxing Federation for the past six years, Eyasu has proven his dedication and leadership in the sport. After completing his first term, he was reelected for a second term, solidifying his position as a driving force behind Boxing in Ethiopia. Now, Eyasu embraces a new responsibility to foster the growth and development of the sport throughout the entire continent.

In addition to his involvement in Boxing, Eyasu is a versatile entrepreneur who has made significant contributions to various sectors. Through his company, Omotic General Trading, he has successfully imported automotive spare parts and vehicles, bolstering Ethiopia’s transportation infrastructure. Eyasu’s entrepreneurial spirit extends to the industrial sector, as he established a thriving steel factory, playing a vital role in the country’s industrial development.

Furthermore, Eyasu has made a mark in the hospitality industry, owning notable establishments such as Paradise Lodge Arbaminch, Paradise Lodge Turmi, and the exquisite Halala Kella Luxury Resort. These ventures and his ownership of several popular restaurants in Addis Ababa reflect his ability to create captivating destinations catering to locals and tourists. Eyasu’s accomplishments as a businessman highlight his astute decision-making and strategic vision and exemplify his leadership qualities.

Eyasu stated that he is working towards making boxing a sport that will bring Ethiopia’s name out on the international stage, just like athletics. He also underlined the need for the government and other partners to work together.

Hosting large-scale competitions is a crucial step towards promoting and elevating the sport of Boxing. Recently, an exhilarating sporting extravaganza took place at the Skylight Hotel, leaving a lasting impact on the boxing scene in Ethiopia. The event’s magnitude and impressive prize money acted as a catalyst, inspiring individuals to invest in the sport and fueling the aspirations of coaches and boxers.

The competition witnessed a remarkable turnout of spectators, including renowned artists like Serawit Fikre and Girum Ermias. Their presence added excitement and glamour to the already electrifying atmosphere. The scale of the event, both in terms of the prize money and the overall setup, was unprecedented, making it a trailblazing moment in Ethiopian boxing history.

Abdulsemid Mahammed, the vice president of the Ethiopian Football Federation, expressed his optimism, viewing this tournament as the beginning of a new era. He revealed that the federation envisions staging similar high-profile competitions every month, signalling a promising future for the sport.

Eyasu’s election as a member of the International Boxing Association (IBA) has opened doors of opportunity for Ethiopian Boxing. As an international sports organization that oversees amateur boxing matches and bestows world championships, the IBA holds immense potential for Ethiopia. Eyasu’s active participation in the IBA’s director’s board meeting in Dubai is anticipated to yield valuable support for the revival of Boxing in the country.

This pivotal meeting is a stepping stone towards Ethiopia hosting international tournaments, which can bring numerous benefits. Not only will it provide a platform for Ethiopian boxers to showcase their skills on a global scale, but it will also bolster the nation’s boxing infrastructure and garner support from the IBA. Furthermore, the collaboration between Eyasu and the IBA paves the way for African boxers to shine brightly on the world stage.

Eyasu emphasized in a post on X that Investing in African Boxing goes beyond the sport itself. He highlighted the significance of empowering the youth with essential values such as discipline and resilience and providing them with a platform to showcase their abilities. “As we train the next generation of champions, we build stronger communities and inspire a continent.”

In addition to fostering local competitions, the presence of Ethiopian boxers on international stages, such as the Olympics, holds great significance. Recently, the African qualification event for the Paris 2024 Olympics took place, capturing the attention of both media and fans alike. Among the standout performers was Endalkachew Yadessa, widely known as ‘Gichero,’ who showcased an awe-inspiring display throughout the tournament. His remarkable journey to the final showcased his strength and exceptional skills, earning him well-deserved recognition.

Although Gichero ultimately settled for a second-place finish, narrowly missing out on Olympic qualification, his outstanding performance was a testament to the abundance of talent within Ethiopia’s boxing scene. His resilience and prowess captivated spectators and highlighted the potential for Ethiopian boxers to excel on the world stage.

Wende finds great encouragement in the positive developments and the tournament held at Sky Light Hotel. He emphasizes the importance of sponsored competitions and the participation of top-notch boxers. However, Wende also highlights the need for increased media coverage for the sport. While football competitions receive extensive reporting, even outside the capital, Boxing often needs more attention.

The recent advancements in Boxing have reignited passion among many individuals, including Wende. He believes former boxers could return to the sport with continued improvements. Boxing holds tremendous potential to enhance the country’s image and encourage youth to pursue their passions and cultivate physical fitness. EBR

12th Year • January 16 2024 – February 15 2024 • No. 125


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