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SPORTS

Ajowi promises fireworks in Russia

BOXING By Ben Ahenda | May 7th 2021
Heavyweight boxer Elly Ajowi during the team's training session at Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani in Nairobi on August 6, 2019. Kenya is preparing ahead of the All African Games to be held in Rabat, Morocco from August 16-31, 2019. [Stafford Ondego/Standrd]

Africa Zone Three super heavyweight champion Elly Ajowi is confident the National Boxing Team will give its best in the Konstantin Korotkov Memorial International Tournament in the city of Khabarovsk in Russia starting Monday.

The nine-day competition to run from Monday to May 16 has attracted top European boxing nations and three countries in Africa in Kenya, Morocco and Algeria.

 Fresh from winning a gold medal in the Africa Zone Three Boxing Championships in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo in March, Ajowi said the team is ready to revert to its original place in the global boxing map as was in the seventies and eighties.

He said the Russian championships will give them the right atmosphere against refined boxers drawn from Europe and the rest of the world in readiness for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Japan in two and half months.

"Such tournaments give us confidence and the right atmosphere to take part in serious competitions and therefore it has come at the right time before we head to Olympics," Ajowi told Standard Sports.

Four boxers have qualified for the Olympics and are expected to jet out of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport today.

The quartet includes Ajowi, 2015 African Boxing Championships lightweight gold medallist Nick Okoth, Commonwealth Games flyweight bronze medallist Christine Ongare and national lightweight champion Elizabeth Akinyi.

The four boxers will be handled by three coaches led by Head Coach Musa Benjamin and assistant coaches David Munuhe and John Waweru while the team manager is Linus Ouma.

Boxing Federation of Kenya Communications Director Duncan Kuria and international referee cum judge Nelson Otieno are other qualified officials approved to accompany the team. 

Otieno will officiate in the tournament having faced a similar assignment in the Kinshasa Championships and during the World Military Games in South Korea in 2015.

 

Otieno was impressed by his appointment to officiate in Russia and promised to give his best at a time Confederation of African Boxing((CAB) is equally shopping for officials from the continent to officiate in Japan.

"Accompanying teams during national assignments gives us and players confidence required that can assure them of fair officiating in international assignments," he told Standard Sports.

Head Coach Musa Benjamin said morale was high among the four players who have been training for the past five weeks at AV Fitness Centre in Lavington, Nairobi.

Admitting it is a tough tournament, Benjamin said the four players are in the right frame of mind for the tournament but are ready to give their best before they head for the Olympics.

"The tournament is the right platform that gives our players the right exposure against competitive opponents before we head to the Olympics," he said.

The team is also scheduled to feature in another international assignment in the Phillipines next month, which will be the final friendly assignment before they head to Japan.

Meanwhile, the Moroccan team of four boxers are already in Russia preparing for the Olympics.

They are featherweight Mohammed Hammoud, welterweight Abdelahaq Nadir, light heavyweight Mohammed Assaghir and heavyweight Youness Baala.

 

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