Gicharu loses to Cuba’s Ramirez to dim Rio 2016 hopes


Team Kenya fighter and pro boxer, Benson Gicharu, in a weigh in ahead of an ...
Team Kenya fighter and pro boxer, Benson Gicharu, in a weigh in ahead of an international bout. PHOTO/Stafford Ondego/www.sportpicha.com

Kenya’s remaining boxer in the AIBA World Olympic Qualification tournament, Benson Gicharu’s Rio 2016 hopes hang by a thread after he lost 3-0 in the quarterfinals of the bantamweight (56kgs) category to Cuba’s Olympics champion, Robeisy Ramirez on Thursday.

Had Gicharu defeated the Cuban national he would have earned direct qualification to the Olympics having boxed at London 2012.

The 2010 Commonwealth Games silver medallist’s fate now hinges on Ramirez claiming gold in the category to advance as the quarterfinalist who lost to the eventual winner.

So far only two boxers from Kenya have booked qualification for Rio, Kenya Police constable Peter Mungai and Kenya Prisons officer; Rayton Okwiri who confirmed their places at the Africa Olympic Qualifiers in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Welterweight Okwiri defeated Azumah Mohameed of Ghana 3-0 to clinch gold in the qualifiers in March 2016 while lightflyweight Mungai earned wildcard entry after Sibusiso Bandla was rejected by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee claiming they did not recognise him as their boxer.

Mungai and Bandla battled in the third place play-offs during the qualifiers won by the South African.

Kenya entered six fighters in the AIBA Tournament in Baku, Azerbaijan where only two advanced past the first round.

Light heavyweight (81 kg), Elly Afowi Ocholla bowed out in the round of 32 when the referee awarded the bout to Nigeria’s Sadaq Umar after the match doctor declined to clear the Kenyan to continue as he had sustained a deep cut above his left eye.

“The referee followed the AIBA rule which states that if someone is injured during the match and it is adjudged to not be a foul the game is stopped and the boxer who is not able to continue with the fight automatically loses the bout,” Boxing Association of Kenya President, John Kameta explained to Citizen Digital.

“Initially they used to award the match to the person who was leading at that point but it changed when AIBA ruled that no fighter should be involved in any contest whatsoever while they are injured in any way or form,” he added.

Aziz Ali, 35, also failed to qualify in the men’s heavyweight (91 kg) after he was knocked out by Turk Seyda Kesesr in the round of 16.

Ali, who featured in the Beijing qualifiers had earlier beaten Anold Akanisa Phuzi of South Africa to advance to the second round of the ongoing tournament.

Amateur Professional Boxing (APB) middleweight boxer Nick Abaka was the third boxer to be eliminated from the championship after he was beaten by Faraci Devde of Switzerland 3-0 in the first round.

‘King Abaka’, who qualified for the 2008 Olympics but failed to honour the event in Beijing following an injury he picked up during a military sports extravaganza in Uganda, still has a chance to qualify for Rio when he competes at the World Professional Boxing Championships in Venezuela next month.

Meanwhile, Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) Senior Private Simon Nzioki Mulinge lost out to Iranian Sajad Mohammadpour in the first round in the flyweight (52kg) while Nick Okoth was eliminated after he lost 3-0 to Latvia’s Artjom Ramlavs in the men’s lightweight (60kg).

Report by Edward Kagundah

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