Botswana’s flamboyant female Boxer, Aratwa Kasemang shocked the Botswana Boxing Association (BOBA) fraternity with her decision to turn professional, despite the upcoming crucial international armature boxing competitions that she was set to compete in. Kasemang’s decision seems to have angered BOBA leadership as they are of the view that she did not follow the right procedure when making her decision more so that she was one of the key boxers and medal prospects for the highly anticipated Commonwealth Games slated for Birmingham, England in July.
It has always been within the rules and regulations of the International Boxing Association (IBA) that a boxer who turns to professional boxing would no longer be eligible to compete in the amateur boxing. In a subsequent interview with Gazette Sport, Kasemang said turning professional is a dream come true more so that she knew IBA regulations allow for a boxer to play both which she believes that it will contribute towards her brand visibility. “I have always wanted to turn professional but I couldn’t because of my previous commitments as a university student as well as an armature boxer. It has been rough for me in terms of my wellbeing, I am unemployed, and I had to explore avenues that would generate income for me as well as building my brand that can attract potential employers and sponsors so I can make a living. The IBA now allows for one to compete in both and I took advantage since I will be preparing for the big world events such as the Commonwealth Games. The other reason I turned pro is that I never get strong opponents in Botswana, and I wanted a tough challenge hence I considered Professional boxing and to me its all about hustle and also representing my country,” she said.
For his part BOBA Secretary General Taolo Tlouetsile confirmed that they are aware of Kasemang’s move and they have engaged both IBA and Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) on the procedure and other technicalities that comes with the move from amateur to professional boxing. “We know of her status, and she did not report for Zone 4 camp because she has a fight in South Africa on the 21st of April and we hear that she is busy preparing for it hence she couldn’t report for camp. I can’t say it is allowed to jump ship just like that or not because we have enquired with IBA and we are waiting for an answer and we have also engaged the BNOC to see if it is allowed for an athlete to compete in both categories. IBA is going through transition and some rules are bound to change and we are not yet aware of any change. For now, we have no further comment on the issue,” he explained.
Kasemang further stated that she will return to armature boxing immediately after her fight with Raider Muleba of South Africa on the 21st of April. She is hopeful that her space in the national team will still be available as she is looking forward to competing at the Commonwealth Games. Meanwhile Botswana has many boxers who switched to PRO boxing such as Kabelo Bagwasi, Kagiso Bagwasi and Kgomotso Bok amongst others who are not eligible for armature boxing but with the new rules give them an opportunity to return and represent their country fully.