By Omulo Okoth
What went wrong with Kenyan boxing? I keep asking myself this question every time I read reports of our boxers.
Of the 10 boxers Kenya sent to the African qualification tournament in Casablanca, Morocco, last month, only Benson Gacheru Njangiru made it, thanks to a silver medal he won after being outpointed by Botswana’s Oteng’ Oteng’.
Not even the much fancied heavyweight national champion Daniel Shisia could make it. Light heavyweight Aziz Ali, who was in the Beijing Games four years ago, Super heavyweight Charles Odhiambo, welter weight Rayton Okwiri all fell by the way side. And so were light weight Dennis Okoth, Tobias Ayot, bantamweight Martin Aluoch, light weight Victor Opiyo, and lightfly Peter Warui.
Shisia lost by the narrowest of margins, 11-10 to Ghana’s Maxwell Amponsah. But that is water under the bridge.
By hosting the qualifiers, and ending up with the highest number of boxers from the continent, seven, did the home ground advantage favour Morocco? Or they are just better boxers, after all? Algeria will send six boxers to the Games, Egypt five, Cameroon and Ghana four each and Tunisia three.
Kenya is in the one boxer per country category with Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mozambique, Seychelles, Tanzania and Zambia.
But how can we be in this group? This is the question bothering me. The ‘Hit Squad’, as our national boxing team was known during the good old days, was unbeatable in the continent.
They travelled far and wide, taking part in the prestigious King’s Cup in Bangkok and Inter Cup in Germany.
This is squad that graduated into 1988 Olympics, which included the late Robert Wangila, who won gold after knocking out Frenchman Laurent Bouduani, and Chris Sande, among others.
The stylish boxers like Steve Mwema, Maurice Maina, David DK Kamau, David ‘Harish’ Ouma, the current coach Patrick ‘Mont’ Waweru, the late Harold Obunga, Sylvanus Okello ‘Sulu’, James Demosh Omondi, Steve Okumu, Joseph Akasamba, are extinct.