What really happened in Fiji?

THE Honiara Amateur Boxing Association (HABA) has strong evidence that the President of the Solomon Islands Amateur Boxing Association (SIABA), Mr Patrick Morris, is actively misrepresenting the success of Solomon boxers at the recent Tri-Nations Tournament held in Suva, Fiji, last weekend.

The Solomon Star ran an article on Tuesday 11 June 2019 in which Mr Morris was quoted as saying, “From our seven fighters we’ve managed to come home with three victories and four defeats.”

But the President and Vice-President of HABA, Mr Waisea Bainivalu and Mr Thomas Selena, have been informed by International Boxing Association (AIBA) officials in Fiji that only one Solomon boxer, Mr Jeffery Nyieda, actually won a bout.

“So who is lying?” asked Mr Bainivalu. “Is it AIBA? Or is it SIABA under the presidency of Mr Morris? Our national sporting authorities and the people of the Solomon Islands deserve to know the truth. And if Mr Morris has simply invented the results reported in yesterday’s newspaper, he should be held accountable for deceiving the nation.”

In addition to confusion about the number of Solomon victories, there is also confusion about Mr Morris’s claim that the seven Solomon boxers attended the Tri-Nations Tournament “as part of their preparation for the upcoming Samoa Pacific Games.”

“Our understanding is that only four of the seven boxers who went to Fiji are actually members of the national boxing squad,” said Mr Bainivalu.

“Why didn’t other members of the national boxing squad attend? And on what basis did SIABA select the boxers who did attend?”

“All of the Solomon boxers who attended the Tri-Nations Tournament fought hard and well against strong opponents,” added Mr Bainivalu.

“They’re to be applauded for their performances. But we in HABA believe they are being let down by SIABA’s ongoing incompetence.”

The confusion surrounding the Tri-Nations Tournament is just the latest problem for SIABA under the long leadership of Mr Morris. According to Mr Selena, HABA has identified a litany of failures of the national federation over recent months and years.

“SIABA under Mr Morris has no vision whatsoever for growing and improving the sport of boxing in the Solomon Islands,” Mr Selena said.

“SIABA hasn’t held an Annual General Meeting in years. The current executive committee never meets and its membership is unclear.

“We in HABA know almost nothing about SIABA’s formal governance structure. Decision-making is opaque, including decisions about finances. Mr Morris appears to run SIABA like an arbitrary dictator.”

“SIABA doesn’t provide any development opportunities for Solomon coaches and officials. There are currently no AIBA accredited coaches, referees, or judges anywhere in our country.

“This is an embarrassment because it means that Solomon boxers cannot be cornered by their own countrymen at international competitions, as happened to Henry Kia at the last Commonwealth Games.”

“SIABA is only a non-financial member of AIBA and its ongoing dysfunction is really testing the goodwill and patience of the international governing body.

“We in HABA have been advised by senior officials within AIBA that the Solomon Islands is one of several countries currently under consideration for expulsion.”

“We have also received alarming reports about the training regime for the national squad being sent to this year’s Pacific Games. Apparently it almost entirely consists of shadowboxing and running, with many training sessions being led by one of the boxers, not a coach. This is obviously inadequate preparation for boxers heading into a competition like the Pacific Games.”

“HABA has been trying for months to help the national squad by holding tournaments at the Multipurpose Hall. But we’ve been unable to do so because of SIABA’s failure to pay for hiring the Multipurpose Hall for last year’s national selection trials. This issue has only recently been resolved, no thanks to SIABA, which still owes ten thousand dollars to the Honiara City Council (HCC).”

Both Mr Bainivalu and Mr Selena called for all national sporting authorities in the Solomon Islands to take emergency action to reform SIABA for the sake of future Solomon boxers.


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