Boxing looks for Olympics punch back

Mmusi Tswiigi is in the national team PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE
Mmusi Tswiigi is in the national team PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE

Botswana boxers will look to return to the world’s biggest sporting event next, the Olympic Games in Tokyo, after missing the 2016 edition.

Boxing has been an ever present at the Olympics since making its first appearance during the 1992 Olympic Games held in Barcelona, Spain.

France Mabiletsa became the first boxer to represent the country, and since then, Botswana has had representation at the global showpiece.

At the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, US, the country was represented by Healer Modiradilo, while Gilbert Kunwane was in Sydney, Australia, four years later.

At the Athens, Greece competition in 2004, Botswana had two boxers for the first time, with Lechedzani ‘Master’ Luza and Khumiso Ikgopoleng, the representatives.

Ikgopoleng and Thato Batshegi qualified for the Beijing Olympics in 2008 while Oteng Oteng was at the London Olympics in 2012.

Ikgopoleng remains the only local boxer to advance past the first round, after reaching the quarter-finals in Beijing, by far the best performance.

While boxing has made steady progress at the Olympics, there has been a worrying dip of late, after the sport failed to send a representative to Rio in 2016.

Now, the Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA) is trying to pull all stops in order to ensure that boxers are on the plane to Tokyo next year.

BoBA spokesperson, Taolo Tloutsile said the fact that three boxers, Rajab Otukile Mahommed, Aratwa Kasemang and Lethabo Modukanele were at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, points to an improvement.

“This year, we hosted the Zone IV tournament and won the competition. We are hoping to do well at the African Games (formerly All Africa Games) in Morocco next month. Our team preparations speak for themselves, we want to be the best in Africa. The boxers should utilise the opportunity,” Tloutsile said.

The Olympic qualifiers would be held next year, and boxers that get gold and silver are eligible for the qualifiers.

Last month, the International Olympics Committee (IOC), stripped Olympic status from troubled boxing body, International Boxing Association (AIBA) and will now organize qualifying and final tournaments for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Tloutsile welcomed the development. “It is a welcome development, at least they did not expel boxing from the Olympics. The issue of governance at AIBA has been of great concern to everyone, particularly national federations,” said Tloutsile.

“So the takeover of AIBA Olympic duties by IOC simply means AIBA has been given a chance to redeem themselves. We are hopeful that by the next 2024 Olympics AIBA would have rectified all the concerns raised by IOC.”

Meanwhile, BoBA will hold its annual general assembly tomorrow at the Lemepe Lodge in Molepolole.

The national team is in Thailand for an international competition.

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