by Charles Jay
Five Cameroon boxers who competed in the Olympics have defected to the United Kingdom, where they say they want to continue their boxing careers
All of the boxers went missing after they were eliminated from the Games.
Supposedly money was at issue, as these boxers, who were promised bonuses as a result of their participation, only got half of the agreed-upon amount. Rather than stage a “strike” of sorts, however, they went ahead and competed anyway, because, as one of the boxers, Blaise Yepmou Mendouo (a super heavyweight), told the BBC, “It’s a matter of image.”
Aside from that, they say they were threatened.
Now they would like to explore the professional ranks, something that they would be restricted from doing if they remained in their home country.
Aside from Mendouo, the others are Thomas Essomba, Christian Donfack Adjoufack (light heavyweight), Yhyacinthe Abdon Mewoli (lightweight) and Serge Ambomo (light welterweight).
The boxers are reportedly allowed to stay in Great Britain until November; after that, things are up in the air.
Cameroonian sporting officials assert that the claims of threats are absolutely false, and that they are being used solely to justify the idea of defecting.
Cameroon is an impoverished country, to say the least. According to reports based on statistics, fully one-third of the population – more than six million people – do not have access to electricity or drinking water. That is a tough way to live.
The boxers are looking for “sponsors” who will help them stay in Britain, or perhaps go elsewhere, so they can pursue their professional aspirations.
Do any of them have long-range potential? Well, the best among them is probably Essomba, who was ranked fourth in the world as a light flyweight coming into the tournament by AIBA (International Boxing Association) and advanced into the second round of the competition with a 13-10 win over Abdelali Daraa of Morocco, then lost 15-10 to Paddy Barnes of Ireland (who received an opening round bye) in the Round of 16, in a bout that took place on August 4.
As for the others…..
* The 28-year-old Adjoufack, who was ranked 15th in the world by AIBA, lost his first-round match 15-6 to Enrico Kolling of Germany, who was ranked 38th;
* Abdon Mewoli, rated 10th in the world by AIBA, lost his opening-round lightweight bout 11-6 to Fazliddin Gaibnazarov of Uzbekistan (who was ranked 16th);
* Ambono, who was unranked, was eliminated in the first round of the light welter competition by Yakup Sener of Turkey,, dropping the bout by a 19-10 score;
* The 27-year-old Mendouo, smallish for his division at six feet even, but ranked #7 in the world by AIBA nonetheless, was a 15-6 loser to Mohammed Arjaouli of Morocco (ranked 13th) in the Round of 16.
So what we have is a situation where three of the five boxers, who carried high world rankings coming into the festivities, lost an opening round match in rather non-competitive fashion to a fighter ranked below them. You have to wonder whether they were giving it much of an effort at all in their zeal to get out of the Games and into a taxi. If a casual observer didn’t know any better, they’d think these team members were going into the tank. Only the efforts of Essomba, who got past the first round and had a very spirited fight with Barnes, gives us any doubt at all.
Then again, one supposes they had sufficient motivation.