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EYES ON TOKYO

Hit Squad start Olympic preps with strength and conditioning workouts

They are training under coach Musa at the ultramodern AV Fitness Gym in Lavington

In Summary

•Kuria, a former ‘Hit Squad' captain, also noted that Kenya will be entering 15 boxers in the prestigious Mabingwa Wa Mabingwa Championship in Dar-es-salaam

•Like the male boxers, women will also be gunning for Olympic slots for the rescheduled Summer Games next year.

Nick Okoth, Shaffi Bakari and Christine Ongare in training at the AV Fitness Gym in Lavington
Nick Okoth, Shaffi Bakari and Christine Ongare in training at the AV Fitness Gym in Lavington
Image: COURTESY

National boxing team ‘Hit Squad’ have finally gone back to their daily grind after months of inactivity.

The team resumed their 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games preparations in Nairobi under Coach Musa Benjamin. Boxing Federation of Kenya (BFK) communications director, Duncan Kuria aka ‘Sugar Ray’ said the strength and conditioning training program is aimed at keeping boxers in shape ahead of upcoming build-up events.

Kuria, a former ‘Hit Squad' captain, also noted that Kenya will be entering 15 boxers in the prestigious Mabingwa Wa Mabingwa Championship in Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania from December 6-9. He said Kenya team will comprise of men and women boxers.

Like the male boxers, women will also be gunning for Olympic slots for the rescheduled Summer Games next year.

Kenyan boxers will use Mabingwa event to prepare boxers for the World Final Olympic Games qualification tournament in Paris.

The Paris event was called off due to the global outbreak of coronavirus. Likewise, the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games were also pushed to 2021 .

“Kenya team boxers are in very high spirits. They are training under coach Musa at the ultramodern AV Fitness Gym in Lavington. Luckily, the owner is Nairobi County Boxing Association Chairman Kentrak (Ken Odhiambo). The Gym is one of the best in the country given its elaborate Covid-19 protocols. We are glad we are training under the general protocols issued by the Ministry of Sports. For now, we can only do national team training because boxing is yet to open.”

Asked what challenges the team has faced during this tormenting pandemic period, Sugar Ray said: “Since the African qualification tournament in Senegal, our boxers are yet to encounter requisite match situation and have had to make do with individual workouts which weren’t sufficient."

He added: "In line with Covid-19 protocols, we have had to avoid all technical drills like sparring, pad-work and concentrated more on strength and conditioning. This is really tough for us but again it’s Covid time and there is nothing we can do at this juncture.”

“As a federation, we had prepared protocols that can be applied to guide our boxers in training once boxing is allowed to resume. For now, we can only keep our fingers crossed.”

Only two boxers—Nick ‘Commander’ Okoth and Christine Ongare —have  qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

The rest including Rayton Okwiri who is a professional boxer, George Cosby Ouma, Boniface Mugunde, Victor Odhiambo, Edwin Okong’o, Hezron Maganga, Joseph Shigali, Shaffi Bakari, Joshua Wasike, Stacy Ayoma, Elizabeth Andiego, Elizabeth Akinyi, and Elly Ajowi are hoping to seal the coveted slots in Paris.