With the exit of former African champion Nick Okoth from 2022 Commonwealth Games, all eyes will be on Africa Zone Three bantamweight gold medallist Hassan Shaffi Bakari when he takes on Rukmal Prasanna of Sri Lanka today.
Bakari will face off with Prasanna in round of 16 of men’s over 51kg-54kg bout in Birmingham as the Club Games start to take shape with more Kenyans participating.
The Kenya Police boxer will be expected to redeem Kenya’s boxing team's image after the 2015 Africa Boxing Champion Okoth exited the stage last Saturday at round of 32.
Okoth, who is one of Kenya’s most decorated boxers, lost to Keevin Allicock of Guyana in the lightweight (60kg) category.
For Bakari, whose star is steadily rising from one international tournament to the other, it is a must-win for the Kenya Police boxer who is taking part in the Club Games for the second time after a failed attempt at the 2018 Gold Coast Club Games in Australia.
Head coach Musa Benjamin is a man under siege as he must come up with strategies that will ensure the team records their first victory to prove his critics wrong on his achievements from the time he was appointed as the national coach.
Benjamin said moulding a winning team is a process and it will not come as faster as some boxing pundits would aspire.
“It’s a step at a time from one assignment to the other either at the national or international level. And putting pressure on any technical official in not good as we all know where we have come from in the Sports and rebuilding a team is a process,” Benjamin told Standard Sports.
Tomorrow, Commonwealth Games flyweight bronze medallist Christine Ongare and Africa Zone Three Boxing Championships gold medallist light heavyweight Elizabeth Andiego will face off with Priyanka Dhillon of Canada in the minimumweight (48kg) and Australia’s Anne Parker in a quarterfinal middleweight clash respectively.