Sigh of Relief

Three Kenyan boxers currently plying their trade in the newly-introduced AIBA Pro Boxing ranks have been cleared to represent the national team at the 7th All Africa Games in September.

Boxing Association of Kenya chairman John Kameta, confirmed having received approval from the international amateur body, AIBA, for the trio be part of the Kenyan contingent in the Congo Brazzaville Games.

“After weeks of intensive lobbying, we managed to convince AIBA to release our boxers to feature in the continental games as we want them to get adequate practice in run up to the Rio Olympic qualifiers,” said Kameta.

Contacted for comment, the three boxers welcomed the AAG move, saying their experience in Congo will come in handy during qualifiers. Speaking from his alternate training base in Germany, two-time Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Benson Gicharu thanked Kameta for his timely intervention in securing an approval from the global body.

Gicharu’s 2016 Rio Olympic qualification dream on the APB front came a cropper following his split points after initial defeat to Chinese boxer Jiawei Zhang during a Cycle 1 Round 1 match staged in China two months ago. Although the Kenyan made amends in Cycle 1 Round 2 by defeating Javid Chalabiyev of Azerbaijan, he will have to cool his heels till next year when the last Africa qualifiers head to Yaounde, Cameroon.

The 2015 AIBA Wold Championships in Doha this year will also offer boxers a chance to vie for Olympic tickets but it’s usually easier doing so at continental level, according to Kameta.

AIBA restricts APB pugilists to play only in World championships and Olympic related continental events. This year’s AAG will not serve as qualifiers for Rio Olympics.

However, Gicharu believes it’s a good platform to gauge their preparedness at continental level. Gicharu, who is returning from Germany this Sunday, said: “The games in Brazaville will give us a clear picture of what to expect in Yaounde because the cream of Africa’s best will be there. The next APB fight in our weight division will be held in September. Since I will not be in the title fight, I may be offered a curtain-raiser which I think won’t be that big compared to fighting in the All Africa Games. I will now be training locally as usual and I’m really excited being back in the national team,” said Gicharu.

Meanwhile, welterweight Rayton Okwiri and middleweight ‘King’ Nickson Abaka will play their APB Cycle 1 Round 2 matches this weekend. Okwiri is already in Russia for his bout tomorrow against Elimantas Stanionis of Lithuania while Abaka departed yesterday for his Sunday bout against Ecuador’s Delgago Suarez Mario Javier in Moscow. Okwiri’s fight will be staged at Arena Sports and Entertainment complex in Kemerovo Russia.

In order to officially qualify to compete at Rio 2016, all APB Champions must defend their titles in the APB Cycle I world title matches. By doing so, both contenders–champion and challenger– would automatically be awarded an Olympic quota place.