The long wait is over and it’s all systems go as 19 teams head to Busia for the second leg of the Boxing Association (BAK) National League.
The national league punched-off on May 9-11 at Nakuru’s Madison Square Garden in May and was preceded by National Novices in Nairobi, Intermediates in Thika and the Kenya Open, which attracted leading boxers including reigning ladies Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Christine Ongare, international Shaffi Bakari and Lorna Kusa also a national team boxer. Busia’s leg will be held at the Kenya Medical Training College from June13-15.
Like the opener in Nakuru, this week’s event has also attracted leading boxers from as far as Vihiga County who recently hosted a tournament earlier in the month. BAK Interim secretary Isaac Mbote sounded quite enthusiastic of the boxers preparedness headed for Busia.
“The boxers are getting better and better with every event. We have witnessed tremendous progress and indeed significant improvement from county teams and we can only hope for the best in Busia,” Mbote said.
The idea of BAK events traversing all parts of the county is part of the noble “Ndondi Mashinani” initiate being used to spread the boxing tentacles across the country.
“Ndondi Mashinani is geared towards reviving Kenya’s lost glory by creating an enabling environment for county teams to realise their potential in boxing. Standards have been set and only the sky’s the limit. The bouts will feature male and women boxers,” added Mbote.
Perennial league champions Kenya Police ‘Chafua Chafua’ have lined up a star-studded squad comprising of Kenya Open champion Cosby Ouma (middle), welterweight Boniface Mugunde, Martin Maina (light-fly), Shaffi (fly) and Martin Oduor in (Bantam).
Shaffi has since moved a berth up to 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.
Ethan Maina will also box for the Nairobi-based law enforcers in the lightweight division with international Elly Ajowi hoping for the best in heavyweight.
Mary Christine of Siaya and Esther Wanjiku of Dallas will renew their rivalry in Busia for the umpteenth time. Light flyweight Wanjiku lost 0-3 to Christine in semis during the Nakuru leg and will be hoping to avenge the defeat.
Alice Waiyego and Pauline Chege both from Nairobi County are expected to shine in the 56kg ladies bantamweight division. Kisumu County has the likes of Kevin Akoko (bantam) and Charles Obonyo (welter). Trans Nzoia will be represented by among others their leading bantamweight boxer Victor Wangila. Thika has its usual suspects in Duncan Kamau (fly) and Ken Ogutu (light heavy).
Police’s Humprey Ochieng aka ‘Jakababa’ will be seeking to avenge the two defeats he has suffered thus far at the hands of Nairobi hard-hitter Joseph Onyango. Onyango, one of the rising stars from the ‘Ndondi Mashinani’ Initiative, has out-punched Jakababa twice in the Kenya Open and the league in Nakuru and it will be interesting to ascertain just what’s up to their sleeves in Busia with thrills and spills are guaranteed.
Meanwhile, Mbote announced that plans are at an advanced stage for BAK elections at Kasarani. BAK agreed to rescheduled their long-awaited elections from May 28 to June 28 following a letter from Registrar of Sports Rose Wasike asking them to postpone the exercise in order to comply with laid down rules and regulations. Anthony Otieno Ombok aka ‘Jamal’ will be running for the BAK presidency seeking to unseat Mombasa based John Kameta.