Okwiri makes U-turn, to be part of team for Tokyo Olympics

Friday, January 10th, 2020 00:00 |
Rayton Okwiri is declared the winner in a past middle-weight bout after he defeated Ugandan Patrick Amote. Photo/PD/DAVID NDOLO

Kenya Boxing Federation (KBF) has picked a total of 13 boxers for the African Olympic qualifiers in Dakar, Senegal next month.

The African qualifiers will be held between  February 20 and 29 at the Dakar International Expo Centre in Diamniadio where Kenya will be hoping to surpass the number of three boxers who represented the country at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Speaking during the launch of the camp yesterday in Nairobi, head coach Benjamin Musa said the national team christened ‘Hit Squad’ will commence training at the Depot Boxing Gym in Mathare from tomorrow before relocating to Nanyuki next week.

The team has both female and male pugilists who will take part in different categories.

“In Rio, we had Benson Gicharu, Rayton Okwiri and Peter Mungai in team Kenya. We are hoping to make the number bigger in Tokyo,” Musa said.

He added: “While it’s only Okwiri who is in the current squad from the team in Rio four years ago, there is lot of optimism from the other boxers as well.”

The head coach said before settling on the final eight men and five ladies for the qualifiers, a team of 28 boxers comprising 10 women and 18 men, picked after the final leg of the national league in Kisumu late last year, will battle for the limited slots.

“We are coming from long holidays. We shall start with muscle conditioning, cardio as we advance to technique.

On Saturday we shall start with the long road running session to know the fitness situation of each and every boxer,” he said.

Olympian Okwiri, who has made a U- turn after declaring four years ago that he would not represent the country again and was turning professional, is confident that his experience will see him get past two other boxers for an opportunity to get closer to another Olympics appearance.

“I know the two very well. They are coming up well which is encouraging for the Sport.

But I also know their strengths and weakeness and most importantly how they fight.

That will give me an edge,” said the boxer, who will battle with Edwin Okong’o and George Cosby in the middle weight category.

BAK boss Anthony ‘Jamal’ Ombok said the body will do all it can to ensure boxers are given adequate support to revive the sport whose standard have nosedived recently.

“The history is there. Since the 1970s Kenya has always sent boxers to Olympics. With support I know we can challenge for medals.

We have an obligation  to take boxing forward, “ said the former heavy weight pugilist.

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