Hit Squad aim to impress in Russian tournament
BOXING By Ben Ahenda | May 11th 2021
As the Kenya National Boxing Team takes on their opponents in the Konstantin Korotkov Memorial International Boxing Championships tomorrow, Kenyans are expected to give a good account of themselves against some well-established global opponents.
Being their penultimate international friendly tournament ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Kenya has sent four boxers who have qualified for the event to expose them to some of refined global opponents.
It will be held at the Lenina Regional Sports Complex Stadium in the city of Khabarovsk.
Being the second and the toughest competition than the Africa Zone Three Boxing Championships hosted in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo in March, it could give the four boxers the confidence required before they head to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The Olympics will be held from July 23 to August 8, and the last international friendly assignment for Kenya is set for the Philippines next month.
Head Coach Musa Benjamin said these tournaments act as morale boosters to the boxers and of great help to the technical bench, laying importance on a SWOT Analysis once they enter official residential training in Nairobi.
"We are taking a tournament at a time and a match at a time in all these assignments. They'll be beneficial to us and each player has taken their bouts seriously while learning from each match," coach Benjamin told Standard Sports.
In the first international assignment after a long lay-off of twelve months owing to lockdowns, Kenyan boxers travelled to DRC for the Africa Zone Three Boxing Championships and won a total of 13 medals - one gold, five silver and seven bronze medals.
Kenya had sent a squad of 16 boxers to Kinshasa as opposed to four who flew to Russia.
The four include Africa Zone Three super-heavyweight gold medallist Elly Ajowi, 2015 Africa Boxing Championships lightweight gold medallist Nick Okoth, Commonwealth Games flyweight bronze medallist Christine Ongare and National welterweight champion Elizabeth Akinyi.
"After the conclusion of the Russian Championships, the final tournament will be in the Philippines with only a few weeks to Olympics," the head coach stated.
The four boxers are being handled by Benjamin and assistant coaches David Munuhe and John Waweru, with Linus Ouma as the team manager.
"The team is in good shape and we are using it to gauge strengths and weaknesses of players. It (tournament) has come at the right time ahead of the Olympics, which is only two months away," he told Standard Sports.
Three African countries, Kenya, Morocco and Algeria have registered their boxers for the tournament, with Morocco was the first to arrive in Khabarovsk on Thursday last week.
"Having in mind the time to heal, train and rest for boxers and members of the technical bench, the three international friendly competitions are enough for us (technical bench) to gauge their (players) strengths and weaknesses before we enter the official residential training camp for the Olympics," coach Benjamin said.
"This tournament will assist the technical bench gauge players fitness before we embark on the final international friendly assignment in Philippines ahead of the Olympics," said coach Benjamin.
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