By Sahr Morris Jnr
Sierra Leone’s former top boxer, Abdul Rashid Bangura, who now resides in London, is currently building the country’s first boxing academy dubbed as the New Age Boxing Academy which is under construction in the Northern City of Makeni.
The former Commonwealth boxer, said he derived the inspiration to construct the academy in a bid to keep his father’s legacy alive, a promise he made before his father, who was a former boxing trailblazer and coach Bangura who died in 2014.
“This project is done to honor my father’s strives to make boxing an attainable sport in the country”, he maintained.
He continued;” My boxing career started in Makeni, but unfortunately could not represent Makeni and this academy project in the Northern City is one to show how grateful I am to have started my journey from here”.,
Abdul Rashid Bangura is a level three (3) boxing coach in England who has coached boxers that have won high-profile bouts in the UK. He avers that his aim of constructing the academy as a non-profit entity is to give hope to young Sierra Leonean talents who may have the thought all is lost.
“My desire was always to give back to Sierra Leone. During my early days in the UK, things weren’t as good as expected, but that did not deter my plans to help my nation through boxing”, he said.
“One of my aims in constructing this academy is to ensure we change the mindsets of the youths, which is from drug addiction gangsterism and other stuff that can jeopardize their wellbeing”, he maintained. He said he wants young people to use the academy as a tool to change negative narratives and better themselves in society by becoming better boxers and sportsmen.
During a visitation to the construction site on Saturday, 25th June 2022, the General Secretary of the Sierra Leone Boxing Association (SLBA), Alhaji Komba, lauded the initiative and work already put in by Mr. Bangura. “This is just the best payback any Sierra Leonean out there and back home can give to a discipline that gave him joy”, he laments.
“This is a huge project, a big boost not only for people here in Makeni, but Sierra Leone as a whole. Abdul Rashid Bangura’s initiative is plausible and as an association, we applaud him for being able to draw up such an initiative and putting on this wonderful structure”, he continued.
Komba further stated that Bangura’s construction of the New Age Boxing Academy has given a lifeline to the combat sport expanding its arenas within the four corners of the country.
“We have boxing rims in Freetown at the Siaka Stevens Stadium and in Bo at the Bo Stadium, and the construction of this one (though a private own), will give visibility to the sport and will also create the eagerness for more young boys and girls to show more interest towards it”.
Alhaji Komba however called on more Sierra Leoneans out there with the capacity to come on board in promoting the boxing sport in whatever way they can.
The New Age Boxing Academy is a one-storey building with a gym, a boxing rim an office, and a hostel that will accommodate over thirty young boxers.