by Quinton Alomp – EM TV Sports, Port Moresby
Former PNG flyweight boxing champion, Raphael Lare, said the country is just one step behind Australia when it comes to their performances in the sport of boxing.
Lare said since independence in 1975, boxing has improved significantly in Papua New Guinea.
“Safety in boxing has improved, unlike my time,” he said.
With the impressive performance by young PNG boxers against international fighters at the recent Pacific Games, Lare believes in the next five years PNG fighters will be competing against Australians for top billing.
“We are one step behind Australia in terms of boxing,” he said.
Other Pacific Countries to also show improvements in recent years are Tahiti, New Caledonia, Nauru and Fiji.
Lare is a Bougainvillean who won gold in the 51 kilogram flyweight division during the 1995 South Pacific Games in Tahiti.
His boxing career ended in 2002, and since then he has been running a private boxing club called Kokopo Fire Boxing Club in Kokopo town.
His 10 years of active boxing, and now 13 years of coaching, have given him enough experience to reflect on the code of boxing in the country.
“The future of boxing looks promising,” Lare said.
He is now coaching 19-year-old Carteret Islander, Thaddius Katua, and 18-year-old Beupu Noki from Wanigela village.
Katua won gold in the 60 kilogram division in the recent Pacific Games, while Beupu grabbed silver in the Golden Gloves Challenge in Australia.
They are preparing for the Commonwealth Youth Games to be staged in Apia, Samoa, later this week.