BY PATIENCE LEPHOGOLE
Unlike any other sport in the country, local boxing has a rich tradition of winning medals at the commonwealth Games.
Of the 12 medals won by Botswana ever since participating in the Commonwealth Games, six (6) have come from boxing, five (5) from athletics with Lawn Bowls completing the list with one medal won.
While local boxing’s success started in 1994 when France Mabiletsa won a bronze medal at the Victoria Commonwealth Games, their most successful spell came in the past three Commonwealth Games, as they returned 5 medals between 2002 and 2010.
This tradition was however broken at the Dehli 2014 Commonwealth Games when local boxers returned empty handed.
Now, after a few years of rebuilding, Botswana boxing returns to the games with a renewed hope that they can once again make Batswana fall in love with the game once again. Where they had pinned their hopes in men boxers only in the past, this time around, Botswana boxing has taken to the games women too.
However, the sport is expected to bring back the spark when all hell will be expected to break loose during the hosting of the Southern African Development Community regional Zone VI boxing championships tournament by Botswana, scheduled for 23rd to 28th of April, as the country seeks to reclaim its glory.
The local lads are expected to shine during the championships as per the head coach’s optimism. Head coach Master Lechedzani Luza said he is confident that the assembled team will perform to the fullest of their capabilities and beyond expectations.
“Preparations are going on so well; the team has long started training as well as being on camp ahead of these games. We are to have the final test match on Saturday which is to be hosted by Glen Valley,” Luza said.
When asked what criteria was used to select the squad, Luza said they used athlete’s performance from last year. He said: “All the guys in the team are champions in their categories and have improved consistently in 2018 to be the best. In a way we have the country’s boxing la cr├¿me of the nation.”
He further revealed that they are faced with several challenges despite overlooking them.
“We have shortage of sparring opponents and we will constantly invite clubs in Gaborone to train with the national team,” he added.
“We intend to restore the confidence of Batswana in boxing as a sport, because it has not been doing well in the past tournaments,” he opined.
“The mood has been great since we hosted Lesotho two weeks ago and gave the some free boxing lessons,” Luza boasted.
Luza said together with his coaching delegation, they have chosen a team that will represent the nation, and he has great belief in their capabilities.
In the male category these include Kobamelo Molatlhegi for 49kg, Mohammed Rajab Otukile in 52kg, George Molwantwa and Tefo Maitewa for 56kg, Treasure Moremi in 60kg, Pitso Mmopieng and Kabo Seitshiro for 64kg and Mmusi Tswiige for 69kg. In the female boxers, Botswana will be well represented by Lethabo Modukanele 48kg and Keamogetse Kenosi and Aratwa Kesemang in 60kg respectively.
The boxing tournament will also serve as a qualifier for the Africa championships that will be hosted by Morocco later in the year.