Punching for redemption

Portia Mlilo

Boxing eyes, two more Olympic spots

With the Olympics postponed to next year, Botswana Boxing Association (BBA) National Team Coach, Lechedzani Master Luza intends to use the extra time to qualify two more boxers for the global sporting phenomenon.

To date, female pugilist Keamogetse Sadie Kenosi is the only boxer to qualify for the games, which will be held in Tokyo in July 2020.

However, Luza is adamant that current African Champion, Mahommed Rajab Otukile can join the feisty Francistowner in Japan.

- Advertisement -

Otukile, who fights in the U/52kg category, was due to leave for Paris this month (May) to take part in the second round of Olympic qualifiers. The event, like all other sporting meets, has since been suspended indefinitely.

Punching for redemption

Speaking exclusively to Voice Sport this week, Luza described Covid-19 as a curse but also a potential blessing to his boxers.

Whilst he admitted the pandemic was likely to disrupt his fighters’ form, Luza explained there was also opportunity amidst the disruption.

“The break is going to affect us and it might not be possible for us to go to Thailand and France for international training. It can also help us to have more time to prepare. It can work in our favour as we now stand a chance to send another boxer to join Mahommed at the qualifiers,” he said, adding the association has now submitted a proposal to Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) requesting an extra slot at the qualifiers.

According to Luza, he has shortlisted the final slot down to four boxers but is yet to make a choice on who will receive the opportunity of a lifetime and a shot at a potential ticket to Tokyo.

Highlighting the difficult conditions the association works under, Luza ruefully revealed, “I gave our national team boxers a training plan and some are struggling because they do not have punching bags at home, they just throw their fists in the air! They just do push-ups, skipping rope and run around their houses because they cannot do road work.”

- Advertisement -

For his part, 23-year-old Otukile said that whilst the postponement has affected him psychologically, he has been in constant contact with the national team psychologist

“He has been counseling him. We interact via WhatsApp and he sends me voice notes to make sure I do not lose focus,” explained the Lobatse native, who announced himself as the best in the continent with his stunning Gold medal at the Africa Games in Morocco last August

The confident fighter remains supremely optimistic that he has what it takes to make it to Japan.

“I was really looking forward to the qualifiers and I stand a better chance to qualify for the Olympics. I worked hard with the coach to prepare for them and I had gained momentum form international camps and competitions. I train every day in the morning and evening doing sit-ups, push-ups and jumps.

“I also weigh myself every day. As a boxer you must be disciplined and avoid eating oily and sweet food so that you don’t gain weight,” concluded the toned youth, whose rippling abs and bulging muscles are the envy of many.

- Advertisement -
Leave a comment