Fights take place shortly after end of judges and umires

By Standard Sports: Friday, April 20th 2018 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Boxing

Rayton Okwiri (left) of Kenya in counterpunch with Salehe Mkalekwa of Tanzania during their 6 rounds International Super welterweight contest in the Africa Boxing championship held at Crowne Plaza on February 04, 2017. Okwiri won on TKO on the third round. [Photo: Stafford Ondego]

Rayton ‘Boom Boom’ Okwiri has arrived safely in the country for his main undercard fight in the World Boxing Council (WBC) and African Boxing Union promotion in Nairobi on Friday.

However, the opponent for the former Kenya Prisons Service pugilist was nowhere to be seen during the early morning weigh-in at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) on Thursday.

Okwiri was scheduled to take on Ugandan and former International Boxing Federation champion, Kassim Ouma, in a six round non-title middleweight fight dubbed ‘Crossing Borders’ at the Charter Hall.

Fight promoter, Richard Mwoba of L.B Sports Promotions, was forced to make frantic efforts on Thursday evening to secure for US based Okwiri an opponent after Ouma failed to honour the bout.

Okwiri and Ouma’s battle was to act as a curtain raiser for the main bout pitting Egyptian Andreas Valavanis against Tanzanian Salehe Omari Mkalekwa in a 12 -round ABU Welterweight title.

Get the latest sports news updates. Subscribe to our SMS sports service by texting 'SPORTS' to 22840.

The fights are a culmination of a two-day seminar that started on Thursday and is being conducted by WBC and ABU officials at the KICC.

In his welcoming speech, Kenya Professional Boxing Commission (KPBC) President, Hillary Alila, thanked the 100 ringside officials from across Africa for attending the seminar in order to be updated on the new rules of the game, judging, refereeing, supervision and issuing of points among other aspects of the discipline.

“It gives me great pleasure to extend to you all a very warm welcome to Kenya. KPBC is more than delighted to host this auspicious event.

“It is a great honor and privilege bestowed on us and we are grateful to WBC and ABU for choosing Nairobi Kenya as the venue for the meeting,” Alila underlined.

“It is gratifying to note that the agenda of the seminar covers a wide range of very interesting items relating to boxing rules and best practices.

“Ring officials play a big role in the development of the sport and if they lag behind, the game will also be affected,” he underscored.

“The referee in boxing is that individual who is charged with enforcing the rules of the sport during a bout. Therefore, officiating a fight means more than just ensuring that both rivals obey the rules.

“This conference is very important to Africa as the delegates will have a chance to officiate in world title contests,” Alila emphasised.

Olympian, Stephen ‘Vedo’ Okumu Okile, is among the four Kenyans attending the high profile training whose exams will be conducted on Friday.

“I have learnt a lot in this forum. I’m hoping I will pass my exams to get accredited to preside in world championships,” highlighted Okumu who represented Kenya in the Los Angeles 1984 Olympics in the US.

The same sentiments were expressed by KPBC treasurer, Benedetta Kaloki, who is already a certified WBC, ABU and Global Boxing Council referee and judge.

Alex Mwaniki Mugambi of Big Time Promotions said he is attending the symposium to get the relevant skills that can help him take his boxing promotion business to a new level.