NBF's Kashongo uncertain about team selection

The late dismissal of a team coach and a last-minute dispute about the final selection hangs over the team's departure today.
Limba Mupetami
By the time you read this, Elifas Shailemo, or Jonas Junias Jonas, or both, should be en route to Italy alongside four other local amateur boxers for the 2024 worldwide Olympic qualification tournament.

Disagreement between the Namibia National Olympic Committee (NNOC) and the boxing administrators on the selection even led to the bizarre idea being floated to let the two boxers have a fight yesterday in order to determine who should step on the airplane today.

A closed-door meeting convened yesterday afternoon attended by Abner Xoagub, president of the NNOC, and Petrus Kashongo, secretary-general of the Namibian Boxing Federation (NBF), with local amateur boxers still left uncertainties regarding the final team scheduled for departure this morning to compete in Busto Arsizio, Italy.

Kashongo, skirting around the issue, mentioned they were still in the process of finalizing the selection between Shailemo and Jonas in the 60 to 63.5 kg weight category. Kashongo asserted that the respective coaches of the boxers should determine the more prepared contender, leaving the decision to them.

This dilemma arose despite the submission of names on 14 December for the traveling squad. Notably, 2018 Commonwealth Games champion Junias’ name was absent from the initial list, but was later included. When questioned about this alteration, Kashongo clarified that Jonas’ inclusion came to mind later.

Worry from the camp is that Junias is considered the unfitter of the two as he has been inactive for the last two years, at some point stating that he has left amateur boxing to turn professional, which has not fully materialised up to now.

Queries about ticket purchases for either Shailemo or Jonas remained unanswered as well, leaving doubts about potential inactivity for one boxer during the Italy trip.


Moreover, coach and manager Titus Joseph, after receiving a letter on Monday from the NNOC signed by Joan Smit (secretary-general), learned that his services were no longer required.

This decision followed after Joseph told Namibian Sun about the lack of support from NNOC, the sports ministry and the Namibia Sports Commission concerning training camps, transportation and accommodation leading up to the qualifiers.

In the letter Smith stated that the NNOC can no longer allow team members, in this case the team manager, to make false allegations days before an international event.

“Those allegations and negativity have already boiled down to the athletes [some of them have also talked to this reporter]. This is not in good faith and unfortunately not in the Olympic spirit. Arrangements are already in place with regards to the roles and responsibilities to be fulfilled by the head coach, Albertus Tsamaseb and Dr David Weber, the medical officer,” the letter reads.


Joan Smit, NNOC’s secretary-general, did not respond to attempts for clarification regarding Joseph’s dismissal.

Kashongo denied awareness of the dismissal letter, or about Joseph’s withdrawal from the team and refuted Joseph’s dismissal even though the letter was addressed to him.

On the other side, the NBF’s president Benjamin Rebang expressed disappointment with the NNOC’s conduct. He said they have no mandate to decide which boxer should be included or omitted from the team.

“They are the ones giving us money to travel for the Olympic qualifers, and because of that think they can dictate matters. It’s not the first time, even when a team tracelled to the Gold Coast (Commonwealth Games 2018) it was the case.

“I don’t support this (refering to Jonas’ inclusion). You cannot be in the national team if you haven’t participated in any national championship, the rules states that. Jonas hasn’t been in the ring for months and has not even made the weight,” Rebang said.

The remaining boxers forming the traveling team include Try-Again Ndevelo, Gerhard Ipinge, Trofinus Johannes and Petrus Nghishongwa. The competition will run from 1 to 11 March.

The team anticipates returning on 15 March.