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SPORTS

Boxing: Ajowi appeals to Government to provide international matches for 'The Hit Squad'

BOXING By Ben Ahenda | September 17th 2021
Heavyweight boxer Elly Ajowi. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Africa Zone Three super heavyweight champion Elly Ajowi on Thursday appealed to the government to support the National Boxing Team take part in several build up international matches before World Boxing Championships and Commonwealth Games.

The World Boxing Championships will be held in Serbia in November and the Commonwealth Games is set for Birmingham, England next year.

The two tournaments are the two serious global championships coming over after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Ajowi said the two tournaments required vast exposure for the Kenyan boxers to stamp their authority first at the global championships and then later at the Commonwealth Games.

"Given more invitational (international) tournaments give us (players) the leeway to perform better in the two international Championships. It also improves our confidence to face some of the best global boxers," Ajowi told Standard Sports in an exclusive interview at Nairobi Polo Club. 

"Our participation at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was a golden opportunity and an added advantage to similar or senior tournaments as it was one of the best global forums where we faced the best boxers at the preliminary rounds," he added.

Kenya sent four boxers to the Olympics in Ajowi, 2015 Africa Boxing Championships lightweight gold medalist Nick Okoth, Commonwealth Games flyweight bronze medalist Christine Ongare and national welterweight champion Elizabeth Akinyi.

The quartet were all beaten in the opening rounds.

Head coach Musa Benjamin said they have already started training for the global championships. 

"Although time is not on our side we have started training for the global championships for us to reach the maximum fitness levels," Benjamin said.

Benjamin confirmed they need at least two international build ups before they head to Serbia for the global championships.

"Provision of two international build-up tournaments should be a plus for the team and players to improve their confidence and readiness for the global championships," he said.

Yesterday, Ajowi pointed out their performance at the Olympics should not be the yardstick to measure the performance of players who'll feature in the World Boxing Championships, the first serious competition after the Olympics.

" These are two different competitions that have different dynamics and winning or losing about doesn't mean you'll win or lose tomorrow. All the matches have different dynamics," explained Ajowi.

Ajowi has since moved from up the ladder to the senior super heavyweight (over 91kg) category from heavyweight (91kg) having started from the lower weights in his boxing career before he shifted to the light heavyweight(81kg).

"Officially, I have shifted to the super heavyweight and the adjustment also gives my previous opponents a chance to feature in the same weight (heavyweight) as I pursue my ambition in the top weight," he said.

Serious contenders in the heavyweight are Hezron Maganga of Kenya Defence Forces and Joshua Wasike of Kenya Police.

In the super heavyweight, Ajowi is likely to contend with Fred Ramogi of Kenya Defence Forces to clinch the national team slot at the global championships.

However, he said he believes he's the best boxer in that weight category (super heavyweight) in Kenya today.

"I'm ready for any opposition whom I'll face in the fight for this slot as I think I'm the best super heavyweight boxer in Kenya today but I'm ready for major challenges," he said.

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