Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Local boxers ready to punch their way to glory

Botswana boxing will be looking for redemption when they start their glory hunt at the ongoing Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games today (Sunday). 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 sport 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 a youthful team of three ladies and one man.

In this week’s edition, Sunday Standard Sports profiles Botswana’s boxing team at the Gold Coast and assesses their medal chance.

Lethabo Modukanele

When she steps in the ring today (April 8) for her bout against Tasmyn Benny of New Zealand in the quarterfinals of the women’s 45 – 48kg category, Modukanele will make history as the first woman boxer from Botswana to compete at the Commonwealth Games.

Ever since arriving in the local boxing scene, Modukanele has been a revelation. The 24 year old boasts an impressive record in the ring, having lost just one of her 13 career bouts and winning the other 12.

Should she win her bout against Benny and make the semifinals, the local lass will come home with a bronze medal. However, considering that Benny is no pushover, this will be no easy task. The 19 year old New Zealander is ranked seventh (7th) in the Commonwealth in the Women’s Under 48kg category.

Can she make it through? Only time will tell.

Keamogetse Kenosi

Taking the baton from Modukanele, Kenosi will enter the ring on Tuesday (10 April) for her bout with Northern Ireland’s Michaela Walsh in the women’s 57kg category.

Unlike her other female compatriots, Kenosi comes across as an experienced young boxer. The 21 year old came to prominence during the 2nd African Youth Games which were hosted in Gaborone where she won a gold medal.

Ever since, she has not looked back.  Whereas her fellow female boxers who made the team for the Gaborone 2014 Africa Youth Games have fallen by the wayside, Kenosi has held firm and has grown from strength to strength.

Aside from the Africa Youth Games gold medal, Kenosi, who is the Africa Zone 4 reigning champion has also won a couple of honours locally.

Going into the ring against Walsh, Kenosi will have her work cut out for her. Her opponent, 24 year old Walsh, is an accomplished fighter. Walsh is a Commonwealth Games silver medallist, having won it at the Delhi 2014 Games when fighting in the Women’s Flyweight category.

Just like her compatriots, should she win this bout, Kenosi will be sure to add the Commonwealth Games medal to her already growing list of personal honours.

 

Aratwa Kasemang

Completing Botswana boxing’s female complement at the Commonwealth Games is 23 year old Kasemang.

Just like Modukanele, Kasemang came a little late into the local boxing scene. However, ever since 2016, she has been an ever present in the boxing ring. Aside from her local accolades, which include being a national champion in 2017, Kasemang is also an Africa Boxing Championships bronze medallist as well as Africa Zone 4 silver medallist.

As with her compatriots, Kasemang will make her Commonwealth debut in the quarterfinal stage with a bout against New Zealand’s Troy Garton on Wednesday (11 April).

While the 30 year old Garton is no pushover by any means, Kaemang will fancy her chances against her. A win for Kasemang will ensure passage to the semifinals and a guaranteed bronze medal.

Mohammed Rajab Otukile

If there is any pressure on boxing, it will be on the 21 year old Otukile. After an illustrious career in the youth ranks, Gold Coast offers Otukile a chance to step up into the senior ranks.

Just like Kenosi, Otukile burst into the scenes when he won gold at the 2nd African Youth Games in 2014. In the very same here, he added another gold medal to his collection, this time from the Africa Union Sports Commission (AUSC) games.

The past two years saw the youngster step up, winning a silver medal at the Africa Championships before adding the Africa Zone 4 Championships gold medal to his growing collection.

Now in the quarterfinals of the men’s 52kg category at the ongoing Commonwealth, Otukile has to win his bout against a yet to be named opponent on Wednesday (11 April) to make the semi-finals.   

With his opponent yet to be determined, it is not easy to know how the local lad will fare but if he plays well enough and win his next two bouts, he will be certain of a silver medal.

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