Kenya’s boxing team may have lost its sting after years of poor management and a dearth in talent, but ahead of the Africa Games in Morocco in August, the country is hopeful of reclaiming lost glories.
Over three decades ago, the “Hit Squad” had swept all eight boxing medals at the fourth African Games in Nairobi in 1987, with Kenya’s Robert Wangila going on to win Africa’s first gold medal – and still Kenya’s only Olympic gold – in the welterweight at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul.
Antony Otieno, president of the Boxing Association of Kenya (BAK), says it’s his dream to turn the sport into a lucrative venture and help Kenya reclaim its lost ground.
“My dream is to redeem the lost glory of boxing in the country,” Otieno said on Thursday in Nairobi. “We have to make the sport meet the welfare of the boxers, just like in tennis, football or athletics.”
Kenya has selected a huge list of boxers to start preparations for the African Games, which will be held in Rabat, Morocco from August 19. The team will pitch camp in Mombasa for residential training and sparring matches. However, due to a lack of equipment, exposure matches and technical coaches, the country’s chances of dominating the sport on the continental front appear slim.
“We must equip our boxers. We will also ensure we engage in exchange programs with countries that have a boxing heritage, like Cuba and Russia, in order to motivate our boxers,” added Otieno.
The BAK president says the country still has enough talent to churn out and replicate the domination they showed in 1987, when Nairobi hosted the Africa Games.