For the last four years, local boxing sport has been like a ship without a campus to the extent of becoming a failed sport that is lagging behind others.
The national boxing federation has faced unending problems. The union is embroiled in power struggles for control among its leaders.
There has been no recent national championships organised, and it is neither able to attract corporate sponsorship or government funding.
While other sports like cycling, taekwondo, athletics and basketball have made history at international championships, boxing was last there 5years ago.
It is when Rwandan Jean Pierre Cyiza scoped bronze at 2014 All Africa Games in Brazzaville, the Republic of Congo. Besides, it was the only medal they brought home.
Last year, the national boxing team missed the Commonwealth Games held in Queensland, Australia. They were struck off the list because the team did not fulfill the required criteria for representing the country in Australia such as arriving early to join the camp and prepare boxers.
The team also missed the 2017 Africa boxing continental Championship in Brazzaville. The same reason was given by the Ministry of Sports and Culture – saying the team was “not well prepared”.
Lack of facilities like a boxing ring to be used for competition has been another big challenge. The last memorial competition held at Rafiki Nyamirambo and Kimisagara here in Kigali saw two competition bouts taking place in an improvised ring.
The games were a laughing stock as boxers sometimes missed steps falling from the ring only to be thrown back in the ring by the fans.
Going by recent comments from the new leadership, it seems there is finally light at the end of the tunnel.
Vicky Kalisa, the president of Rwanda boxing federation told me the issues they have faced are being tackled one by one – and will soon be no more.
“We have obtained permanent legal status that permits us to operate legally like other federations,” he said. “To us this means a lot. We will also benefit from corporate sponsors and funding from the national Olympic body.”
Securing funding has been the federation’s biggest challenge. With legal existence, all they have to do is work on strategic plans to be shared with potential partners.
The boxing federation must work on urgently acquiring standard facilities which they could use to attract international tournaments. Nobody will want to bring their teams to a place with no ring.
The federations also needs to move quickly to organize local tournaments at club levels and game camps for young stars from which talent can be identified for grooming to send on the global stage.