Gaborone — Euphoria has hit the boxing fraternity as Botswana readies to host Zone 4 African Boxing Championships billed for Botho University from April 24 to 27.
The tournament is guaranteed to bring the creme de la creme of Southern Africa under one roof.
A total of 64 male boxers and 14 female boxers from 12 countries would sweat it out for a podium finish. With a team of eight male boxers and three females, Botswana's medal prospects are high, especially in the women teams that comprises of Lethabo Modukanele in the 48 kilogrammes division, Keamogetse Kenosi and Aratwa Kesemang in the 57 kilogrammes and 60 kilogrammes respectively.
The trio of Modukanele, Kenosi and Kesemang did well against regional competitors in the past, therefore their bouts are expected to shake the tournament. All the three boxers' reigned supreme over their Lesotho counterparts during a recent international friendly.
The men's team is made up of Kobamelo Molatlhegi (49kg), Rajab Mahommed (52kg), Tefo Maitewa and George Molwantwa (56kg), Treasure Moremi (60kg), Pitso Mmopiemang and Kabo Seitshiro (64kg) and Mmusi Tshwiige (69kg).
The country has for years been blessed with an array of talent in the lightweight division and the current team is no exception.
The ried and tested boxers like Mahommed and Maitewa did well during the Commonwealth Games and other international tournaments
Meanwhile, chairperson of the local organising committee, Mr France Mabiletsa emphasised Botswana's readiness to host and compete in the tournament, highlighting the importance of hosting a tournament of such magnitude. "It is a pleasure to note that Botswana Boxing Association was allocated a total of P700 000 to prepare for hosting the upcoming games and all is in place and simply waiting the opening bell of the first bout," said Mr Mabiletsa.
He said nine regional countries out of the invited 12 had already confirmed their participation adding that only Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe confirmed their absence.
"We are also expecting Somali Republic to compete as guest nation and they have confirmed to send one female athlete," he said. Mr Mabiletsa indicated that Botswana last hosted the Zone IV Championships in 2013.
He said it was every elite boxer's dream to compete in the games because they were used as qualifiers for the African Championships and All Africa Games, where winners would qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
He was optimistic that the games will leave a lasting legacy in Botswana adding that they will avail an opportunity for seven local referees, who will be officiating, to undergo International Boxing Association Level 2 course that will be conducted prior to the games.
Source : BOPA