Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Khumiso Ikgopoleng: the unsung boxing hero

Khumiso Ikgopoleleng, who is currently riding the crest of a wave of success, will partake for the first time in the AIBA world tournament. The tourney features the top 8 boxers in the world and will be taking place on the 10th to 14th of December in Moscow, Russia.

At the Beijing 2008 Olympics, Ikgopoleng bowed out in the quarter finals at the hands of the eventual gold winner, Uugan Enkhbat of Mongolia. Before bowing out in the quarter finals, he smashed Hicham Mesbahi of Morocco in the preliminary round.

On how he lost to the Mongolian, he explained that he used a similar technique as his. Last week, Ikgopolenge showed that he is a force to reckon with after defeating Akanyang Molefe, a seasoned boxer, by 3 to nil. The fight, which was the main event, had throngs of boxing lovers on the edge of their seats. The rapturous atmosphere could easily have been mistaken for the thunderous Pandamatenga stands at the National Stadium. Ikgopoleleng talks in awe of Lesly Sekotswe, Master Luza, Gilbert Khunwane, whom he described as sharing the same objectives. He said the three boxers are disciplined, dedicated and determined, adding that, throughout his carrier, he has been self driven and never waits for word from any one to propel him to do something.

His boxing carrier is also not without hurdles as he doubles as a teacher at Tlogatloga Primary School. He said that combining the two remains a challenge which he is pleased to be overcoming but sometimes affects his preparedness for tournaments.

Ikgopoleleng cited Saturday’s Keone Mageu Inter club Tourney, lamenting that he had taxing commitments at work. Of the medals he has won, he treasures the one that he won in Venezuela, a bronze Medal, in a world tournament called BATALA-DEKARABOBO. Other medals in his cabin include a bronze and gold from the African Championship, a bronze from the All Africa Games and a bronze from a China Pre Olympic tourney.

Despite all the signals that he is a great boxer, the bantam weight is least persuaded to turn professional and seems quite content with his achievements as an amateur boxer.

“I have achieved most of my goals as an amateur and chances that I may turn professional are remote,” he said. “I will give it some thought though but it will take some time.”

He revealed that what separates him from other boxers is that he knows boxing both by practice and theory. Having studied boxing at the hub of boxing in Cuba, he said it has put him an edge over his opponents as he can deal with any kind of their styles.

His greatest asset, he said, is his footwork that he says gives him an advantage over others.

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.