The 10 Kenyan boxers competing in this year’s Commonwealth Games in Queensland city of Gold Coast, Australia are out to end the drought of gold medals that goes back nearly 25 years.
The last time Kenyan boxers won gold at the ‘Club Games’ was in the 1994 edition in Victoria, Canada. The gold medalists were light flyweight Abdulrahman Ramadhan and heavyweight Omar Ahmed Kasongo.
Two boxers – flyweight Duncan Karanja and super heavyweight David Anyim – claimed silver medals in Victoria while two others – middleweight Peter Wanyoike and light heavyweight Peter Odhiambo – settled for bronze medals.
The responsibility of bringing medals home from Gold Coast squarely falls on the hands of seven male and three female boxers. The male pugilist are light flyweight Shaffi Bakari (Kenya Police), flyweight Brian Agina (Coast Combined, Mombasa), bantamweight Benson Gicharu (Kenya Police), lightweight Nick Okoth (KDF), middleweight Edwin Okonga (KDF), light heavyweight Nick Abaka (KDF) and heavyweight Elly Ajowi (Kenya Police). Female boxers include flyweight Christine Ongare, welterweight Lorna Kusa and middleweight Elizabeth Andiego, all from Nairobi County.
In the present squad, Gicharu is the most experienced pugilist and a medal prospect. He claimed silver medal in the 2010 Delhi Games and was a bronze medallist in the 2014 games in Glasgow.
He has also competed in two consecutive Olympic Games – London (2012) and Rio de Janeiro (2016). Gicharu was also one of the three Kenyan boxers who fought in the International Boxing Association (AIBA) pro-boxing that was discontinued after qualifying boxers for 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
KDF warhorse Okoth trains guns on opponents in Gold Coast
Light heavyweight Nick Abaka who is also in Gold Coast and welterweight Rayton Okwiri also took part in pro-boxing. Okwiri turned professional after the Olympics.
As for female boxers, all the three girls are capable of reaching the medal bracket, even though the head coach, Patrick Maina expressed a lot of confidence with Elizabeth Andiego before the team left for Australia.
It was in Queensland during the 1982 Commonwealth Games that Kenya’s boxing team won more gold medals than their athletics compatriots. In fact, the boxers brought home more medals than the athletes for the first time ever. Three boxers, light flyweight Ibrahim ‘Surf’ Bilali, flyweight Michael ‘Spinks’ Mutua and lightweight Hussein ‘Juba’ Khalili won gold medals in their respective weight categories.
Light welterweight Charles Owiso got a silver and heavyweight Mohammed Abdalla Kent brought home a bronze medal. Kenya emerged tops in boxing.