Durban delight

Kitso Ramono
UNITED: Team BW put in a good showing in SA

*Botswana boxers shine at Mandela Cup

After a shaky start to the year, Botswana boxers finally hit their straps, winning six medals at the just-ended Mandela Africa Boxing Cup in Durban, South Africa to finish 6th out of the 41 nations that took part.

Competing in just his second international competition, 19-year-old Mmoloki Sekwaipe was the star of the show, going all the way in the 57kg category to bring home the country’s sole gold medal.

Showing great composure and a maturity beyond his years to reach the final, the teenager was then handed a walkover, after doctors ruled his South African opponent unfit to fight due to a cut he sustained in the semis.

- Advertisement -

Botswana’s medal haul included silver success for Kobamelo Molatlhegi, the light flyweight (48kg) falling short in his final against a fighter from Lesotho, the referee stopping the bout early after Molatlhegi sustained an injury.

There were also bronze medals for the quartet of: Rajab Mohammed, Phekie Bele, Sekhutlo Kutlwano and George Molwantwa.

Indeed, of the eight boxers BW sent to SA, only Keamogetse Kenosi and Kabo Seithsiro ended the tournament empty-handed.

Reflecting on a relatively successful six days in Durban, national team Head Coach, Thebe Setlalekgosi said he was delighted at his charges’ performance, especially as it came on the back of a disappointing Africa Games in March.

GOLDEN TOUCH: Sekwaipe lands a brutal blow

“I am very happy, especially because six of the athletes that we fielded managed to win their first fights. It shows there was a lot of improvement from the Africa Games, as most of them were fighting the opponents that they lost against in Ghana,” Setlalekgosi told Voice Sport.

The coach explained they took part in the event as part of their preparations for the Olympic qualifiers, set for Bangkok, Thailand from 23 May to 3 June. It represents the last chance for boxers to secure their place in Paris for the Olympic Games.

- Advertisement -

Setlalekgosi further stressed their presence at the Mandela Cup was to give his team much-needed international exposure and help them overcome their big fight nerves, with stage fright an evident problem at the Africa Games.

“The most important thing in our camp right now is exposure. Some of the athletes in camp made their debut international fights at the Africa Games, after having their exposure at Ghana most, if not all, managed to win Medals at the Mandela Cup. It shows they need more international exposure and they will come up right,” he went on to say.

The Coach believes their exploits by the South African seaside will give his charges a valuable confidence boost going forward.

“The biggest thing that has been killing our boxers is a lack of confidence and morale. Our athletes lack confidence, look down on themselves, and appear weak in front of their opponents. This competition, I feel, helped to familiarize them with international games,” said Setlalekgosi, adding the team have been training hard since the start of the year and are all in excellent shape physically.

With a lack of funding meaning Botswana can only send four pugilists to the qualifiers in Thailand, two men and two ladies, Setlalekgosi now has a hard decision on his hands, picking the four that will go.

- Advertisement -
Leave a comment