Kenyans stage fair show in India

By Ben Ahenda: Thursday, February 1st 2018 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Boxing

National light flyweight champion Shaffi Bakari stormed into the quarterfinals of the India Boxing Championship in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Bakari, the only member of the ‘Hit Squad’ still in contention in the eight-day contest, beat Wang’ Tashi of Bhunatu on unanimous points’ decision.

His other nine teammates were eliminated in the preliminary rounds of the competition that serve as dress rehearsal for national team to the Commonwealth Games set for Gold Coast, Australia, on April 4-15.

Bakari will fight with India’s Sharma Himanshu of India while three of the four female boxers also cruised into the last eight after staging good shows.

They are light flyweight Veronica Mbithe, lightweight Lonah Kusah and middleweight Elizabeth Andiego as flyweight Christine Ongare exited early.

Kusa (Lorna) beat Seesondee Sudaporn of Nepal on unanimous point decision, Mbithe outfoxed Maharjan Lalita of Nepal and Andiego stopped Munkhbat Myagmarjargal of Mongolia in pre-quarterfinal matches.

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Patrick Maina, the head coach, said the sterling performance was no surprise as he had prepared his team well ahead of the competition.

“It made us know our weaknesses and strengths as we get ready for the Commonwealth Games before we enter a two month residential training,” said Maina.

But Maina expressed his dissatisfaction over former Amateur Professional Boxing (APB) pugilist Nick Abaka's loss to Aryububi Faizulla of Afghanistan in the light heavyweight category.

“The victory of the boxer from Afghanistan was suspect. I believe the judges never did their work well, which led to Abaka’s loss,” said Maina.

The Kenyan boxers are likely to meet some of the opponents, who beat them in India, at the Commonwealth Games.

Africa lightweight champion Nick Okoth lost to Wongsuvan Somchay of Thailand on unanimous points’ decision in the first round.

Benson Njangiru Gicharu, the 2010 Commonwealth Games bantamweight silver medalist, lost to Azizi Laisulla of Afghanistan in a bantamweight contest.

India’s Manou Kumar beat Jacob Kimathi in a unanimous points’ decision in the welterweight.

Kongowea’s Mohammed Ali, who made his international debut, lost in the flyweight against David Mwale of Zambia.

In the light welterweight, Victor Odhiambo also lost to Albert Ayissi of Cameroon.