Hit Squad slowly finding their punch

Kenya's Women Middleweight champion Elizabeth Andiego training in Nairobi. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

The National Boxing Team might have won just one gold medal at the just concluded Africa Zone Three Boxing Championships in Kinshasa that ended on Friday in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but they showed some promise ahead of other tough events.

The team popularly known as Hit Squad scooped 13 medals, one gold, five silver and seven bronze medals.

Organisers of the tournament failed to rate the six competing countries in the tournament as a friendly gesture to bring cohesion among boxers aspiring to take part in the World Olympic Qualifiers in Paris, France in June.

The six countries included hosts DRC, Kenya, Cameroon, Libya, Mozambique and Gabon.

Kenya’s only gold medal was won by the national heavyweight champion Elly Ajowi who plied in the super heavyweight category in the six-day Kinshasa Championships to emerge tops with a total of five points from two bouts played on a round robin series.

It was a sweet victory for Ajowi in the final match as he defeated African heavyweight champion Yegnong Njieyo  Maxime of Cameroon on unanimous points decision.

Ajowi’s victory came at the right time to a boxer who dismissed him at the Africa Olympic Qualifiers in Dakar, Senegal last year.

In earlier bout, Ajowi dismissed Saad Saad of Libya to win the Africa Zone Three super heavyweight title.

The five silver medalists were female national flyweight champion Christine Ongare, Olympian Nick Okoth in the featherweight, flyweight David Karanja, welterweight Boniface Mogunde and heavyweight Joshua Wasike.

The bronze medalists included middleweights Edwin Okong’o and George Ouma Cosby, light heavyweight Hezron Maganga and female boxers lightweight Stacy Ayoma, welterweight Elizabeth Akinyi and middleweight Elizabeth Andiego.

It was a good show for Ayoma who in her debut in an international assignment won a bronze medal.

“We are here to gain exposure and whether we win or not, it will still be a good achievement for us because we’ll have gained experience,” Ayoma said.

Only four boxers failed to reach the medal bracket in their weight categories.

They were flyweight Shaffi Bakari, featherweight Martin Oduor and the duo of lightweight  Victor Odhiambo and Joseph Shigali.

Head Coach Musa Benjamin applauded his squad for a job well done and hopes the same performance will be replicated in Paris during the World Olympic Qualifiers in the next three months.

“The team gave a good account of themselves but we hope to exhibit a similar performance in Paris during global Olympic Qualifiers so that we can have a formidable and big squad for Tokyo Olympics,” Benjamin told Standard Sports.

Kenya’s Ambassador in Kinshasa George Masafu awarded the Kenyan boxers their medals in the presence of Confederation of Africa Boxing officials.

The team was using the tournament to shape their skills in readiness for the Olympic Qualifiers.

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