Fate of two local semi-pro boxers hangs in balance

Kenya's Rayton Nduku Okwiri (R) celebrates winning against Russia's Andrei Zamkovoi (L) during the Men's Welter (69kg) boxing match at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Riocentro - Pavilion 6 in Rio de Janeiro on August 7, 2016. / AFP PHOTO /

A week after welterweight Rayton Okwiri of Kenya Prisons turned fully professional, the fate of two Amateur Professional Boxing (APB) boxers hangs in the balance after the world boxing governing body, AIBA, abolished APB Championships.

The two boxers in bantamweight Benson Gicharu of Kenya Police and Nickson Abaka of Kenya Defence Forces are torn in either following Okwiri’s path or hang their gloves.

The three APB boxers were promoted to the APB Championships by AIBA, which is a semi-professional tournament, owing to their considerable, consistent and excellent performance in the amateur matches.

The disbandment of the semi-professional tournament after key sponsors pulled out of the three year old competition.

BAK President John Kameta who is a AIBA committee member said the world boxing body was only re-organising some of her programmes after it faced financial constraints.

“The new development is just one of the changes to our (AIBA) programmes following withdrawal of some of our key sponsors,” Kameta said. Gicharu and Abaka told Feverpitch that they would first consult their APB coach David Munuhe before coming out with a verdict on their future.

“We must first consult with the coach before our next move,” Gicharu said in support of Abaka.

However, Munuhe cautioned the trio to be keen on contracts signed with promoters in case they decide to turn fully professional.

“Most promoters are not sincere on the welfare of boxers and they (boxers) must be prudent when signing contracts, which also requires legal opinion,” Munuhe said upon learning of Okwiri turning fully professional without consulting Boxing Association of Kenya.

Munuhe said promoters have in the past curtailed the chances of talented boxers excelling in their careers.

“Pugilists earn their cash in a hard way and should therefore be vigilant when entering into contracts with some promoters,” he said.

Okwiri is set to play Tanzanian Iddi Pialarri in Nairobi on February 4 in his first professional fight.

He has since been training under the tutelage of Kenya Professional Boxing Commission (KPBC) coach Julius Odhiambo.

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