The last time Kenya’s boxing team ‘Hit Squad’ won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games was in 1994 at the Victoria Games in Canada through Abdulrahman Ramadhan and Omar Ahmed Rajab.
About 24 years later, head coach Patrick Maina believes that this will change when he takes his charges, eleven boxers; seven men and four women to Gold Coast, Australia for the 21st edition of the Club Games that will run from April 4- 15.
Maina only made one change from the squad selected in December during the Boxing Association of Kenya (ABK) Commonwealth trials held at Kaloleni Social Hall, dropping Mombasa based Mohammed Ali for young star Brian Agina who lost to Ali at the semifinal stage.
“Brian Agina is from our youth team, he has joined camp and with what I see he is doing better than Mohammed Ali; in spurring I can tell he is better and quick”. Said Maina
Maina noted that despite picking three first-timers – Brian Agina, Edwin Okongo and Shafie Bakari, the team boasts of several experienced players with international medals.
He said: “Who does not know Ben Gicharu, the only medalist from Glasgow Games in 2014? We also have Nick Okoth, a former silver and bronze medalist and Elly Ajowi from Police who will be participating in the Games for the third time.”
Three boxers who participated in the India Open Championships were axed from the Gold Coast squad including light welterweight Victor Odhiambo (KDF), welterweight Jacob Kimathi (Prisons) and super heavyweight Fredrick Ramogi (KDF).
“As we wait to know when we will be going for residential training camp in Nakuru’s Madison Square Garden, we are working on mistakes that we did in India, especially on endurance, technique and speed”.
Eleven boxers made the cut for Gold Coast, the largest team in the Kenyan contingent, after athletics.
Men: Light flyweight: Shaffi Bakari (Police); Flyweight: Brian Agina (Coast Combined, Mombasa); Bantamweight: Benson Gicharu (Police); Lightweight: Nick Okoth (KDF); Light welterweight: Victor Odhiambo (KDF); Welterweight: Jacob Kimathi (Prisons);
Middleweight: Edwin Okonga (KDF); Light heavyweight: Nick Abaka (KDF).
Heavyweight: Elly Ajowi (Police). Super heavyweight: Fredrick Ramogi (KDF).
Women: Light flyweight: Veronica Mbithe. Flyweight: Christine Ongare. Welterweight: Lorna Kusa. Middleweight: Elizabeth Andiego (all from Nairobi County.)