After a long lull in its activities, the Nigeria Boxing Federation (NBF) says it has started preparations to ensure many of the country’s pugilists qualify for next year’s Olympic Games in Paris, France.

The African qualifying campaign will hold in Dakar, Senegal, from September 6 to 16. Nigeria, which was once one of the biggest Olympics boxing countries, has been a sleeping giant in recent Games.

The country has not won any medal in the event since Duncan Dokiwari’s bronze medal in the super heavyweight class in 1996. In fact, Nigeria has found it difficult to qualify for the event, with the country presenting only a boxer at the Rio 2016 Games and failing to qualify for the event at the Japan 2020 edition.

The NBF says it is ready to correct the errors and to that effect, it has started preparations for the African qualifiers with 14 boxers from seven weight categories at the National Stadium, Lagos.

According to NBF Secretary General, Dapo Akinyele, the federation has a mandate to ensure that Nigeria qualifies for the Paris 2024 boxing events.

“We will ensure that we are in the Olympics this time around after we missed out of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan.

“We have gathered our best athletes for this camp and we expect results from them; this time around, we must put all machinery in place to ensure qualification.

“Nigeria is not lacking in terms of talents, we have them in abundance; not forgetting that we have history in boxing with medals in boxing events at the Olympics.

“We will do all it takes to ensure that we succeed this time, but first thing is that we want to qualify for the Olympics first,” he said. Also upbeat on the chances of Nigeria halting the slide in one of its key areas of competence, national team coach, Anthony Konyegwachie, said the boxers are in high spirit ahead of the Olympics qualifiers.

“We are training well ahead of the qualifiers and the boxers are all responding well. The spirit in the team is high.

“We do have morning and evening sessions. The morning session starts from 7.00 a.m. to 9.00 a.m., while evening session lasts from 4.00 p.m. to 6.00 p.m.

“We have two camps; one here in Nigeria and another one in the United Kingdom, which has two weight categories for men, 92 kg and women, 75 kg.

“The weight categories in Nigeria are women, 50 kg, 57 kg, and 60 kg, while the men are 57 kg, 63.5 kg, 71 kg, and 80 kg,” he said. He restated the need to support the athletes, adding that adequate support for the team would enhance their performances.

“We need more support for the boxers, they need to be well motivated ahead of the qualifiers in Dakar, Senegal. We need modern equipment for training.

“Nothing should derail our ambition of attending the Paris 2024 because we have no excuse based on our pedigree in Africa, especially with the recent bout in Yaoundé, Cameroun, where Nigeria came seventh.

“At the African Boxing Championship in Cameroun, we were able to secure one gold, one silver and two bronze medals with short preparations; now, we have to perform better,” he said.

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