Sunday, September 27, 2020

Cuban boxing messiah heading home for the last

Botswana has, for a long time, been the dominant force of boxing in the Southern African continent.

Almost every year, the worst results for Botswana in the Zone VI tournaments were that of runners up and the only country that tends to give Botswana a run for money is neighbouring South Africa.

Local boxers have also made a tremendous mark at big international competitions, like the Commonwealth championships and Africa championships. The achievements are mainly due to the invaluable assistance the country gets from the Cuban government.

Botswana has, for a long time, been getting boxing gurus from Cuba to help develop local boxing.

And one man who has been spearheading the development and who is credited with most of the success is now heading back home for good.

Leo Domenquez came to Botswana for the second time in 2005 and is now contemplating to rest.

The renowned cream of Botswana boxers were nurtured by Domenquez. When he first came to Botswana in 1997, boxers such Thabo and Thapelo Setlalekgosi, Dirang Thipe, Gilbert Khunwane and Eliot Mmila learned a lot from him and went on to conquer the world.

Then in came what was to be known as the golden generation that many people see as irreplaceable: Lechedzani ‘Master’ Luza, Khumiso Ikgopoleng, Lesly Sekotswe and Dintwa Sloca.
Luza, Ikgopoleng and Sekotswe are the ones who won everything on offer in the country and even internationally. They even reached the Olympics and Ikgopoleng actually was just one step from the medal table at last year’s Olympics.

Domenquez was the one who was the engineering force behind the team. He even refers to Ikgopoleng as his son because when he was studying in Cuba Domenquez was there for him.
Domenquez told Sunday Standard that he is leaving Botswana a happy man because he had made his legacy. He said since there are still Batswana in Cuba he will always be there for them.

“Botswana will always be my second home. I have had a fantastic experience in this country and I will carry it with me to my country Cuba. Hopefully Botswana will once again send other boxers to Cuba like they did with Ikgopoleng. There are also Batswana in Cuba and hope to keep on helping them like I did with others,” he said.
The Public relations officer of the Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA) Willough Kemoen speaks highly of the man, saying he gave Botswana boxing a distinct feature.

“Normally, when we go for international trips, journalists tend to ask us why our boxers are more technical and tactical compared to the rest of Africans who are mainly forceful and aggressive. My answer to them was always simple; I told them that our boxers are trained by Cubans who are the most dangerous in the world. This then shows you what this man has imparted into our local boxing,” he said.

Kemoen also stressed that Domenquez had laid a good foundation because there were already upcoming excellent boxers who learnt a lot from him. He also revealed that they had already put up a proposal to the Botswana National Sports Council to bring another Cuban boxing guru.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.