Ann Wanjiru (blue) from Kongowea receives a punch from Phanice Mwanaidi from Tranzoia during finals of National Boxing competition at Ofafa Hall in Kisumu on November 23,2019. (Photo: Denish Ochieng/ Standard)

Virus disruption has forced boxers to shift focus to Kenya Open and Olympic qualifiers

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to cause disruption in the sports world, time is running out for the National Boxing League to be concluded by the end of the year.

Boxing Federation of Kenya (BFK) treasurer Musa Benjamin said the six months left before the year ends is not enough to complete the five legs of the league assignments.

He said time was not on their side to start and finish the league championships taking into account players need to rest and those injured require time to heal before the next league assignment.

“It’ll be a miracle to start and complete league assignments if they were to commence this month. Time is not on our side going by our calendar of events, which had just kicked-off by the time the Government banned social gatherings,” Benjamin told Standard Sports.

He pointed out that it would be difficult to complete the five legs of the league championships within six months for players and officials to effectively do their work.

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“Had we played two or three legs of the league championships by the time of the ban, it could have been easier to predict whether it was possible or not to complete the league championships in six months’ time,” Benjamin said.

BFK’s events were stopped during the semi-finals of the National Novices Championships in Nairobi in March at a time the first leg of the National Boxing League was to kick-off in Kitale in April.

As a result, Benjamin yesterday announced that all finalists in the National Intermediate Championships have qualified to take part in the Kenya Open Championships.

If things return to normality, he revealed that Kenya Open Boxing Championships could be the only national tournament to be staged by the federation in Nairobi this year.

With hopes high of the Government lifting the ban anytime now, the federation hopes to send another team to World Olympic qualifiers in Paris, France after they were postponed by International Olympic Committee (IOC), the BFK treasurer said they have not given up the chase for more slots in the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.

“We are still eyeing more slots in the Tokyo Olympics after we failed to earn our targeted numbers at the African Olympic qualifiers in Dakar, Senegal, early in the year,” he said.

“Therefore, we are determined to send a second team to France in order to enhance our chances of more slots at the global qualifiers and improve on our medal haul at the global games, in Japan next year,” said Benjamin who is also the national  team head coach. 

So far only two boxers have qualified for the Tokyo games.

They are 2015 African Boxing Championships gold medallist and the reigning national lightweight champion Nick Okoth and the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games flyweight bronze medalist Christine Ongare who is also the national female flyweight champion.

The two boxers feature for Kenya Defence Forces and Kenya Police in the national league.

The two are training separately in their respective bases due to social distancing requirement with collective instructions of the five technical bench coaches led by Benjamin and his assistant David Munuhe.

“We always communicate to them (the two boxers) on phone and guide them on what to do and what not to do in the course of their individualistic training since they know their strengths and weaknesses,” he observed.

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