By Yankuba Jallow
Alpha Male Entertainment boss and World Boxing Union Africa head Michael Bahsoon harps on his plans for the sport, his election and the state of Gambian boxing.
Foroyaa: You have been recently appointed as joint President of the World Boxing Union, what responsibility does such a role comes with and what does it mean to you?
MB: The World Boxing Union is a sanctioning body meaning that it issues license to professional boxers to fight in certain regions. Just as we have the famous belts such as WBO (World Boxing Organisation), WBA, IBF (International Boxing Federation) and WBC(World Boxing Council). The WBU (World Boxing Union) is among the contenders of one of the uprising belts in the world. We have WBU America, Europe, Africa and Asia. I was appointed for WBU Africa. In the case of what I would be responsible for and what we do, is to bring extra focus on boxing in the whole of Africa with a real company
with organisation like WBU that makes it easy for us and makes it more recognised for the boxers who fight in Africa under WBU will also have the opportunity to fight anywhere WBU belt is. So far for us my role is to make WBU as famous in Africa as the rest of the world.
Foroyaa: You are in contact with your counterparts in the Gambia. What is your plan for the Gambia and other affiliate countries of your Union?
MB: Gambia Boxing Association is responsible for amateur boxing whilst WBU is professional boxing. We do different things. I know Sambou Conteh (rival of Pa Alieu for the Gambia Amateur Boxing Association presidency) and I have offered my help where I could but as far as I know we are too different because he is responsible for amateur boxing.
Foroyaa: Are you aware of the division in the Gambia Boxing Association with two people claiming to be president. How are you intent on helping address this?
MB: I think there is too much politics in the Association. I think they should think about what is good for the boxers and not what is good for the president. I think they should consider sacking both Presidents and starting all over again. I think it is not good for boxing where they are fighting each other. When you speak to some of the boxers, they will say they have no faith in the organisation anyway because there is not much happening. We are just getting on our business and doing what we have to do. It is different from what we do as I said earlier they are amateur and we are professional. It is not good for boxing’s morale; it is not good because if the persons who are supposed to be running boxing are split from the heads, even the boxers you can see that there is no unity. Where you have something where there is no unity it is always hard for them to progress forward.
Foroyaa: What is your plan for boxing in West Africa and what do you think are the issues affecting the sport and the way to resolve them?
MB: We have the plan to develop boxing to the highest standard in Africa so that the African boxers can go to Europe and America and fight competitively so that they can bring those belts to the respective countries. We have been able to create one where the Gambia, Senegal, Mali, Guinea and Liberia have belts. For the Gambia it is Foday Badjie but for the Liberian boxer, we have stripped him off the belt because he doesn’t want to defend his belt. We have four different countries that have their own belts and that is what we want to encourage where Africans can bring some international belts. This is what we believe is achievable.On the issues affecting boxing in Africa, the major challenge is finance because to train and develop a boxer is not cheap. For the average sport organisations or Olympic organisations or ministries of sports, for us to be able to fight in Olympics, we have to spend money we have to invest financially. The other challenge is that boxers need better facilities. We have been able to open a facility in Senegambia which is nice but the boxers need help in having better facilities and equipment thing because if they are competing against Europe, America and Asia, their governments have invested in boxing for
the boxers to go and fight and bring results for their countries. There is disunity. There is lack of unity; I don’t know whether it is the whole of Africa but definitely for the Gambia there is lack of unity. We have to have people that appreciate what we do and help us promote what we are doing rather that keep pushing us down.