OFF TO RUSSIA?

Hit Squad to flex muscles with Europe's best in Russia

The Tokyo Olympics-bound pugilists have been punching their bags furiously with eyes firmly trained on the medals podium after resuming training at their camp in Lavington, Nairobi three weeks ago.

In Summary

•And despite the technical bench incorporating a large squad of eight more boxers to act as sparring partners and provide game situations, Munuhe reiterated the importance of competitive bouts.

•Munuhe, who doubles up as Boxing Federation of Kenya secretary general added there is urgent need to revive local leagues and tournaments after they were forced into a long break following the outbreak of Covid-19 early last year.

Hit Squad assistant coach Dave Munuhe guides Tokyo-bound Christine Ongare during a past training session. IMAGE: COURTESY
Hit Squad assistant coach Dave Munuhe guides Tokyo-bound Christine Ongare during a past training session. IMAGE: COURTESY

Hit Squad assistant coach Dave Munuhe is convinced the Konstantin Korotkov Memorial Boxers' Cup in Russia will afford the best opportunity yet to sharpen the claws of the Tokyo Olympics-bound quartet.

The four pugilists are set to jet out on May 8 for the nine-day tournament that will take place at Lenina Regional Sports Complex Stadium in the city of Khabarovsk, where they will flex muscles with Europe's crème de la crème beginning May 10.

“It's been a while since we gauged ourselves against our competitors on the international stage.

"After the African qualifiers in Senegal, it took us a long time to get another opportunity to compete at the Africa Zone 3 Boxing Championship in Kinshasa, Congo.

“Going to Russia will benefit our boxers in two ways. Firstly, they will know just how good they are this far and secondly, they will be able to earn points that might improve their positions in world rankings,” said Munuhe.

The Tokyo Olympics-bound pugilists have been punching their bags furiously with eyes firmly trained on the medals podium after resuming training at their camp in Lavington, Nairobi three weeks ago.

And despite the technical bench incorporating a large squad of 18 more boxers to act as sparring partners and provide game situations, Munuhe reiterated the importance of competitive bouts.

“I wish we could have at least two other tournaments before we head to Tokyo. There is a special effect that tournaments produces which boxers don't benefit from while sparring with their teammates.

“Tournaments get rid of the tension that boxers experience in the ring when they face opponents who are equally good. Feeling nervous in a game cuts across all sports and it is only important that we find ways of minimising it so that it doesn't impact negatively on the team's performance,” said Munuhe.

“We could have easily graced more tournaments if it had not been for the Covid-19 pandemic. We had invitations to participate in the Netherlands and a host of other African countries but all the plans were ruined at the eleventh hour by restrictions triggered by the pandemic,” he added.

Munuhe, who doubles up as Boxing Federation of Kenya secretary general, added there is urgent need to revive local leagues and tournaments after they were forced into a long break following the outbreak of Covid-19 early last year.

“Lack of local leagues and tournaments has made it even more difficult for our boxers to prepare effectively for Tokyo. We intend to meet soon in order to plan ahead now that the government has okayed the resumption of sports.

“We hope to bring back boxing leagues and tournaments most probably sometime in August. We can't make much progress without activities at the grassroots. We can't assemble a national team without grass root teams and competitions.

The traveling quartet include team captain Nick Okoth, who is the 2015 Africa Boxing Championships lightweight gold medallist.

Others are Africa Zone Three super heavyweight gold medallist Elly Ajowi, Commonwealth Games flyweight bronze medallist Christine Ongare and national lightweight champion Elizabeth Akinyi.

However, Munuhe said Okoth would participate in the featherweight category at the Olympics.

The quartet will be guided by head coach Musa Benjamin and assistant coaches David Munuhe and John Waweru.

Kenya Police chairman Linus Ouma will also travel as team manager. BFK communications director Duncan Kuria will accompany the team.