Kenyan international boxer Shaffi Bakari has decided to move a berth up to the flyweight division after International Olympic Committee (IOC) dropped his speciality.
IOC axed his light-flyweight (49kg) and lightweight (60kg) from Olympics weight program. This, he said, is a deliberate move to safeguard his Olympics aspirations ahead of the 2020 Games in Japan.
His light-flyweight position at Police ‘Chafua Chafua’ team has been taken over by Martin Maina from Thika, according to coach David Munuhe.
Bakari, a constable in the National Police Service recruited in 2015 from Kisauni Boxing Club, made his Commonwealth Games debut last year in Gold Coast as a light-flyweight and first competed in his new weight division (fly) during last week’s Kenya Open at Charter Hall which he won.
“My aim is to qualify for next year’s Olympics in my new weight division then decide whether or not to return to flyweight once my Summer Games campaign is done and dusted,” he quipped.
“Flyweight was all good last weekend. I felt comfortable fighting in it. It wasn’t in my mind at all; I only fought as if it was a light flyweight contest. What I observed is that flyweights have a lot more power and are experienced too. But I resorted to a brain game rather than employing power and that was the secret to success in the event,” he noted.
Bakari added: “I have been compelled to move a berth up for the simple reason that light-flyweight will not feature in Japan 2020. After boxing in Gold Coast last year, my ambition has been to make my Olympic debut.”
“My long cherished dream to feature at the Olympic Games would have been in jeopardy had I remained in my weight class. That is why I decided to move on.”
Shaffi has featured in the All Africa Games in Congo and the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Last year, he exhibited great footwork to beat Matayo Keya of Kenyatta National Hospital 2-1 to win the light flyweight final during the Champion of Champions at Kaloleni. The victory saw him qualify for the Commonwealth in Gold Coast, Australia in April last year.
That was his third time to represent the country at international level but Tokyo 2020 will be his first at the Summer Games should his dream come to fruition.
Bakari won bronze at the All Africa Championships in Congo Brazzaville.