Light heavyweight Nickson ‘King’ Abaka is seeking to claim his maiden global title as he prepares for next week’s Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.
The former Telkom Kenya boxer, now with Kenya Defence Forces, is one of the most experienced boxers in the current Kenya team but has yet to rack up any meaningful gains beyond the African continent despite distinguished service to the national team ‘Hit Squad’.
Abaka, who had a stint in the now defunct AIBA Pro Boxing (APB), is among the boxers who jetted out to Gold Coast with the Kenya team.
In an interview prior to departure, Abaka who was a long-standing welterweight international prior to moving up to middle and now light heavy, said experience will be the main advantage against his ring adversaries in Gold Coast.
“Internationally, I have met several accomplished boxers in the AIBA World Boxing Championships, the APB and I feel time is ripe to make my presence felt in Gold Coast. I can’t say gold or silver at this point in time, but I have a feeling a medal will be forthcoming,” said Abaka.
Abaka, who was a student of Kenneth “Valdez” Ochieng and Musa Benjamin in his formative years, qualified for the Beijing Olympics in 2008 but was dropped from the China-bound team at Kasarani due to a nagging jaw injury he had sustained during a regional military event.
“It was quite disappointing not to travel to Beijing at a time when we had five boxers coming through continental qualifiers. I have a feeling that experience at global stage will indeed come in handy,” he added.
Team Kenya, who left to Gold Coast on March 24, had the privilege of gracing the inaugural 2018 Indian Open Championship prior to training at Mathare Police Depot in Nairobi and eventually the Madison Square Gardens in Nakuru, which is the cradle of some of the greatest Olympians among them Philip Waruinge, a resident of Nakuru who won a bronze and silver at the Olympics.
Of the three boxers, who plied their trade in the APB ranks, only Abaka and bantamweight Benson Gicharu decided to return to club boxing. Rayton Okwiri has since turned professional to pursue his dream in the bare chested ranks.
The current team to Gold Coast which is a blend of veterns and youngters has the likes of Shaffi Bakari, Brian Agina, Gicharu (captain), Nick Okoth (Beijing Olympian), Edwin Okongo, Veronica Mbithe, Christine Ongare, Elly Ajowi, Lorna Kusa and Elizabeth Andiego who became the first Kenya to play in the Summer Games when she was given a London Olympics wildcard. Officials in the Hit Squad include vteran Albert |matito, Patrick Maina (head coach), “Patrick Mont” Waweru and John Waweru. The last time a Kenyan boxer won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games was in 1994 at the Victoria Games in Canada through Abdulrahman Ramadhan and Omar Ahmed Rajab.