Gaborone — This past week the local boxing fraternity was plunged into mourning following the passing on of former hard-hitting light welter weight champion Ofentse Kompone.
De Klerk, as Kompone was fondly known in boxing circles, died after a freak road accident on the last day of the independence long weekend near the newly renovated Nnywane Bridge near Otse.
Friends, coaches and former opponents have paid a moving tribute to Kompone and described his death as having robbed them of God-given talent.
Kompone's longtime coach Keleagetse Ntong said he thought of him like a son.
"I met him when he was doing Standard 6 at Peleng Primary School. Initially he was a very good athlete on the tracks. We then proceeded to Ipelegeng Junior where he continued on his tracks until we tried something completely different, boxing. Kompone proved to be a gem," said Ntong.
In his first year as a young pugilist, Kompone grabbed a gold medal at the annual Botswana Integrated Sport Association (BISA) games. He repeated the feat the following year and was quickly snatched by regional scouts to represent the Lobatse region at the Botswana Games.
He scooped gold.
Kompone impressed the national team scouts and soon donned the national colours at the Youth Championships in Mbabane, eSwatini where he came out tops.
He later travelled to Baku in Azerbaijan to represent Botswana in the World Youth Championship followed by the Youth Commonwealth Games in Scotland. Although he never reached the medals stages, Kompone left a lasting impression.
Ntong recruited Kompone to undisputedly Botswana's home of boxing, BMC Boxing Club in Lobatse, where he spent most of his competitive days. He later joined the SSKB stable in Mogoditshane until his demise.
Former national 48kg champion Bathusi Mogajane grew up with the late Kompone in the streets of Lobatse where their boxing careers took shape. He describes Kompone as a committed boxer with a strong heart and desire to bring results.
"He packed an amazing straight punch. We knew from his bouts that even if he was trailing his opponent he would make a comeback," he added.
Mogajane said Kompone's hunger for success saw him trade punches with opponents above his weight limit. He remembers a formidable partnership that Kompone formed with the likes of Gomotsang Gaasite, Moabi Mothiba and Mmoloki Nogeng amongst others.
Former boxer, coach and sport development officer Healer Modiradilo saw Kompone rise through the ranks. He met him at Lotlamoreng Junior Secondary School during the sport commission's routine talent identification exercise.
He immediately drafted him into the development camp and as they say, the rest is history.
"During his entire boxing career I have known him to be a talented, tough young man, willing to learn all the time and very humble," he said.
Khumiso Ikgopoleng coached Kompone when he won gold in eSwatini in 2010. He also travelled with him to the AIBA youth championships in Baku where he lost against a tried and tested Cuban opponent.
He describes Kompone as a great warrior, brave, disciplined, hardworking boxer who never disappointed when instructed.
Ikgopoleng, speaking from his base in Bahrain where he is the head coach of the local boxing club, said he was lost for words when news of Kompone's passing reached him.
As fate would have it, Kompone's promising boxing career was halted by a previous car crash which left him with a back injury forcing him to abandon competitive boxing.
Through passion and determination, he returned to the ring as an instructor for the Mogoditshane based club until he took his last breath.
<i>Source : BOPA</i>