As the 21st World Boxing Championships boxes-off today, four Kenyan players are on the card among the world boxers taking the ring in search for top honours in Belgrade, Serbia this afternoon.
The four Kenyan boxers are flyweight David Karanja, light-welterweight Victor Odhiambo, light-heavyweight George Cosby Ouma and heavyweight Joshua Wasike.
Karanja, a silver medalist in the Africa Zone Three Championships in Kinshasa last year will be the first boxer to take the ring as he tackles Ecuador’s Luis Delgado in a flyweight bout.
The southpaw Odhiambo squares it out in the light-welterweight bout against India’s Shiva Thapa in the second fight as Ouma fights Belgium’s Ziad El Mohor in a light heavyweight clash with Wasike, who made his international debut in Africa Zone Three Championships in Kinshasa battling Uladzislau Smiahlikau of Belarus in the heavyweight bout.
A number of boxers from all participating countries have received byes in their opening matches.
Among them are newcomer minimum weight (48kg) Maurice Maina, who has saild to teh last 16 while featherweight Martin Oduor, welterweight Joseph Shigali and experienced super-heavyweight Elly Ajowi got a bye to the round of 32.
Kenya has sent a full team of 13 boxers to the global championships.
Head coach Musa Benjamin is well aware of the task ahead if any of his boxers could emulate former world flyweight champion Steve Muchoki who won a gold medal in the same tournament in the same city in 1978 when it was the Republic of Yugoslavia.
“We are equal to the epic task and we are determined to bring some medals back home as we have some experienced boxers in the squad who can do so,” Benjamin told Standard Sports before they took a flight to Belgrade.
He predicted that four of his boxers have high chances of reaching the medal bracket.
Among the 13 boxers, only three have featured in the global championships before.
They are captain Nick ‘Commander’ Okoth and Africa Zone Three super heavyweight champion Elly Ajowi who have each taken part in the global championships twice as opposed to bantamweight Shaffi Hassan Bakari who was there once.
A total of 10 African countries are taking part in the tournament with Kenya as the only country to have entered a full team of 13 boxers ahead of Sierra Leone 6, DRC 5 while Cameroon, Mauritius, Tanzania and Seychelles have three boxers each, Somalia two while Nigeria and Gambia have one each.
In total, 510 boxers from 88 countries are taking part in the 12-day global championships with Europe leading with 246 boxers, Asia 137, Americas 86 and Africa 41.