Namibia boxing trainer Imms Pewa Moses has seen just about everything inside the ring, but COVID-19 is probably the toughest fight he’s ever faced.
The AC Fitness Academy Owner has seen two of his prize fighters miss out on career-changing opportunities in the blink of an eye and watched as sponsorship – the lifeblood of the sweet science – dry up as much of the world enforces a ban on boxing as a means to control the spread of the new coronavirus.
Something has got to give, Moses tells The Southern Times Sport, and stakeholders must come together quickly to plot a return to the ring.
This year, two of his fighters – Julius Indongo and Sakaria Lukas – missed out on big fights.
Indongo was scheduled to fight for an International Boxing Federation (IBF) international title, whilst Lukas was to lace up gloves for World Boxing Council (WBC) eliminator and WBC international bouts in March and April respectively.
Those cards, both set for Madison Square Garden in New York in the United States, were canceled because of COVID-19 after the boxers had already traveled.
Moses told The Southern Times Sportthat, “Early this year we travelled all the way to New York for Madison Square Garden where Julius Indongo was scheduled for two big fights and all the fights where to be screened live on ESPN and ESPN Plus.
“However, everything just changed when one of the NBA players tested positive for COVID-19, which resulted in the cancellation of all contact sports in the US and that marked the end of our journey and the beginning of the impact of the pandemic on boxing.”
He said they were moved from New York to Las Vegas as the Big Apple was regarded as a pandemic high risk area.
The boxers, trainers and the rest of the contingent was to eventually return home via a specially arranged South Africa Airways flight.
And they had to spend two weeks in quarantine on reentering Namibia.
“After the quarantine, that’s when reality stuck me as the country was put on lockdown, which meant the closure of gyms and the ban on all contact sports,” Moses said.
The lockdown didn’t mean just an end to sparring. It also meant loss of revenue as gym subscriptions dried up and cards were canceled.
Moses and company had to shelve the potentially lucrative Boxing Extravaganza penciled for the end of April.
Some countries have resumed boxing but without fans in attendance, and Moses is of a view that Southern African countries should draw lessons from this and allow boxers back into the ring.
“When it comes to resuming of contacts sports, I think everyone has to come on board so we can come up with the necessary requirements and protective measures so that life can go on.
“I would suggest that all participants must go through testing and must adhere to health regulations,” said Moses.
“New boxing fees and the number of rounds must be reviewed so as to cater for the circumstances we find ourselves in, and we need sponsors to come back on board.”
Moses is keeping himself in shape in boot camps he does with his business partner Martin Nangombe in Windhoek.