Permanent Secretary for Youth and Sports Maritino Nemani has commended the International Boxing Association (AIBA) and the Oceania Boxing Confederation (OCBC) for bringing their second 2020 annual forum to Fiji.
Addressing delegates from around the world who were present at the Intercontinental Resort and Spa in Natadola on Saturday (22/02), Mr Nemani said that the Fijian government will benefit from the annual forum through meaningful sports opportunities for our youths who will be able to  gain prospective medals at regional and international games.
“The Fijian Government has always worked closely with all sports and the Fiji Amateur Boxing Association is one sport which government wants revived. Many of our golden gloves and scientific champions for Fiji started at the Walu Bay canteen gym. The Government has demonstrated our commitment by refurbishing and modernising the old PWD boxing gym in Walu Bay to give our boxers a modern and dedicated facility they can use for competition and training,” he said.
“I also thank the organisers AIBA for recognising that  boxing is an important Olympic sport because the Pacific islands have a lot of potentials to produce great boxers. I am sure that by this unified platform we will be able to identify gaps and areas we in the Pacific will need assistance for,” Mr Nemani told delegates.
Chairman of the Fiji Amateur Boxing Association Manasa Baravilala said the meeting in Natadola was a very critical one for boxing in Fiji and Oceania and was quite productive especially for smaller island nations.
“For us in the Pacific there is a very big gap between us and Australia and New Zealand especially for amateur boxing so we need to initiate multi tournaments to enable us to close the gap,” said Mr Baravilala.
“We feel that to get back into competitiveness, there is a need for the revival of the OCBC boxing championship for Oceania countries. We need something more that the Pacific games for our boxers to be able to compete at the Olympic level,” he adds.
Mr Baravilala further said that Boxing Fiji is fortunate to be working with the National Olympic Committee and the Oceania National Olympic Committee (ONOC) in accessing the types of training that is available for our strength and conditioning coaches and administrators and getting them certified.
“At the moment we have only one AIBA 3 Star certified Referee and Judge who is Mr Seru Whippy and we have one AIBA Star 2 coach and there are about six who are AIBA 1 certified,” Mr Baravilala told the forum.
AIBA Marketing Commission Chairman Umar Kremlev assured the forum that all member countries will be assisted.
“We have moved away from the old mindset where the focus was to make money.  AIBA is now focused in helping national federations  and we will work together to make decisions,” he said “ I came to the forum to see first-hand what is happening as we need to develop strategies to develop boxing.”
Mr Kremlev further revealed that Fiji will be the home of the new Oceania Amateur Boxing Academy which will become the centre of Oceania boxing and all programmes within will be free of charge to boxers.
AIBA is the sole worldwide governing body for the sport of boxing in all its forms, with 201 Member Federations.