Why is Africa lagging behind? Response from former Algerian national team coach Azeddine Aggoune

Lack of regular competitions has negatively impacted the development of African boxers, says former Algerian national team head coach Azeddine Aggoune who’s now based in Turkey.

Few boxing competitions in Africa have negatively impacted the development of the game in the continent and inability of the African boxers to excel in major international tournaments.

These are the views of Algeria’s national team head coach between 2009 and 2012, Azeddine Aggoune who’s now based in Istanbul, Turkey where he is the head coach of Altunizade Boxing Academy.

He moved to Turkey last year after heading the Jordanian national team’s technical bench from 2015 to 2018, and the following year he was appointed Saudi Arabia’s national team head coach up to 2022.

“The irregularity of the organization of competitions has reduced the competitive volume of African boxers,” explains Aggoune whose coaching expertise contributed in Algeria sending eight boxers to the 2012 London Olympics, with two of them reaching the quarter-finals.

“Compared to Africa, the competitive volume for European and Asian boxers is between 30 and 35 annually, while it is between 12 and 20 for African boxers.”

Aggoune says this lack of regular tournaments and exposure for the African boxers has affected their overall approach in the ring, resulting to their indifferent performance at the big stage.

Regarding the development plan in Africa, Aggoune says: “In Africa, you can immediately see that there are two types of national federations: rich and poor. This in terms of financial resources. Also, in terms of results, You can identify three types: Strong track record, satisfactory track record and weak track record.

“Proper structures are lacking in majority of the national federations whose most officials don’t have basic knowledge on sports management and they also lack professionalism in the execution of their duties,” says Aggoune, a proud holder of a degree in theory and methodology of sports training, and has been active in boxing for over 35 years.

Aggoune, a former boxer, has handled several Algerian clubs at the beginning of his coaching career among them RC Kouba, CRB Baraki and ASA Protection Civile.

“The development of educational programs for adminstrators, coaches, referees, officials and doctors, has been overlooked in Africa,” says Aggoune.

“Also the delays accumulated in the organization of regular continental competitions have negatively influenced the technical, tactical and physical development of African boxers, compared to their Asian, European and American counterparts.

“The new trends in Olympic boxing favour successive and repeated attacks, while African boxers have remained focused on isolated attacks. New trends in Olympic boxing favour combinations and series of blows, while African boxers prefer strong and isolated blows.”

“Also, the different movements and the work of the feet with the coordination between the different members of the body are not mastered.These shortcomings have affected African boxers on a physical and technical-tactical level.”

Aggoune says the other problem facing Africa boxing is that even when the tournaments take place there’s low attendance in some weight categories as witnessed at the African Games in Accra, Ghana.

“When African competitions are organized, they do not manage to bring together many elimination rounds in some bouts,” he says.

“Often, the competitive volume of certain African championships reaches three bouts (quarter-finals) and sometimes two bouts (semi-finals). This gives some boxers a false belief of conquest but when they’re exposed outside Africa, they’re easily beaten, resulting in more frustrations for the boxers as we saw in the Olympic qualifiers in Bangkok.

“Even the division into four zones has not succeeded in increasing the competitive volume because these zonal competitions are not as regularly organized, and not well attended. This is why it is imperative to think about other ways to increase competitive volume. Round robin can be considered or proceed with another geopugilistic division, which would take into consideration the rapprochement of national federations.”

On the Africa Boxing Confederation (AFBC) leadership, Aggoune says: “From 2002 to 2014, AFBC was led by one President, Dr Abdellah Bessalem. Under his leadership, Africa had regular and various competitions, elite men and women. Youth boys and youth girls and even the junior categories.

“During this period, Africa won a lot of titles and medals. Gold (by Algeria’s Hocine Soltani) at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, at Sydney 2000 Olympics and in 1995 the world championships and at the youth world championships Africa did well.

“But since 2014 to date, AFBC has been led by several presidents (Kellani Bayor 2014-2017). After Kellani Bayor in 2017, Clement Sossa was appointed as AFBC President following the suspension of Kellani Bayor. After Sossa, Mohamed Moustahsane was appointed the president from 2018 to 2020. Then Moustahsane was elected as AFBC’s president from 2020 until 2022. Then came Bertrand Mendouga until 2023, now it’s Eyassu Wossen Berhanu. I wish him well.”

Algeria’s former national team head coach Azeddine Aggoune at the 2016 Rio Olympics with Jordanian lightweight Obbada Al Kasbah. He was then the head coach of Jordan’s national team._

✍🏼 AFBC Communications