The Africa Boxing Union (ABU) has stripped two DRC boxers of their African titles for participating in the Zone 3 Championships, an amateur tournament.
The tournament ended on Saturday (April 9) in Kinshasa.
The two boxers, Marcelat Sakobi and David Tshama, will not be rated by the ABU for two years, said ABU president Houcine Houichi. ABU is affiliated with the World Boxing Council (WBC) which does not allow pro boxers take part in amateur boxing tournaments.
“Now we saw that Sakobi and Tshama are participating in Zone 3 amateur tournament. We’ve stripped them off their ABU titles,” Houichi told BoxingAfrica.com.
“They’ll also not be rated by ABU for two years meaning that they cannot vie for any title during those two years. They’ve also not defended their ABU titles for almost two years now. We never take any decision without a reason.”
Marcelat won the ABU featherweight title in 2020 by defeating compatriot Modestine Munga. Tshama is unbeaten in two fights, and won the ABU middleweight title on December 19, 2020 by outpointing compatriot Augustine Matata. Both represented DRC in the 2020 Olympics yet surprisingly ABU remained mum when this occurred.
“We didn’t remain silent we removed them from our rankings,” said Houichi. “The federation is misusing them by seeking their services when they need them and then dumping them. They can’t keep on shifting at will from pro boxing to amateur.”
Kenya’s top professional boxer Rayton Okwiri was not amused by ABU’s silence on Sakobi and Tshama.
In a social media post, Okwiri said when he took part in the 2020 Olympic qualifiers in Dakar, Senegal, ABU stripped him off his Africa middleweight title for taking part in an amateur event. Okwiri was incensed when Tshama and Sakobi appeared in the Zone 3 Championships in Kinshasa.
He accused ABU of double standards by punishing him but maintaining a loud silence on Sakobi and Tshama for participating in amateur tournaments.
“Why was l stripped off my belt but nothing has been done to the two DRC boxers. Why have they not been punished?” said Okwiri during an interview with BoxingAfrica.com.
Shortly after, ABU acted swiftly to strip Tshama and Marcelat their ABU titles.
“l’m very happy and satisfied by the decision taken by ABU, otherwise they would have soiled their image in Africa pro boxing scene if they would have let them go scot free. Rules should apply to all,” said Okwiri.
Reacting to Okwiri’s complaint, Houichi said, “First of all Okwiri shouldn’t complain as we maintained him as ABU champion at that time despite the promoter didn’t even pay the sanction fee.
“It’s true, we stripped all who participated in amateur fights but now we put them back after two years resuming their professional careers including Okwiri who is rated again in ABU.
“It’s a pity, Okwiri is such a good boxer but he is lacking good management for a brilliant career like some other boxers in our continent, unfortunately.”
Okwiri, who represented Kenya at the 2016 Olympics losing in the quarter-finals to Morocco’s Mohamed Rabi, turned pro in 2017 and the following year clinched ABU middleweight title.
On the importance of ABU belt to African boxers, Okwiri said, “It has little monetary value because in Africa our big problem is we lack serious promoters to hold fights regularly but once you hold ABU belt it improves your ranking in WBC. This is the big advantage.”