Kenyan boxing sinks to all-time low as Hit Squad miss out on Olympics for first time in 32 years

Kenya's Edwin Okong'o fights against Malian Mohamadou Gory Mali during the Olympics qualifiers. Photo: BFK

Kenyan boxing sinks to all-time low as Hit Squad miss out on Olympics for first time in 32 years

Joel Omotto 11:15 - 31.05.2024

Kenya will not have a boxer at the Olympic Games for the first time since 1992 after the country’s representatives suffered early elimination at the final qualification event in Thailand.

Kenyan boxers suffered the inevitable elimination from their final Olympics qualification tournament in Bangkok, Thailand will the last one standing crashing out on Thursday.

Having failed to book their Olympics slots at African qualifiers in Dakar, Senegal in September last year and at the repechage in Italy in March, Kenya sent six boxers to Bangkok for the final shot but few had hopes that they would qualify.

As it turned out, they went out at the initial stage, save for one, who won the first fight before losing the second to exit the tournament.

Eliud Okong’o (light heavyweight), Boniface Mogunde (light middleweight) newcomer Pater Abuti (heavyweight), Amina Martha (bantamweight), Frizah Anyango (welterweight) and Elizabeth Andiego (middleweight) were the six boxers sent to Thailand.

Of the six, Andiego was the most experienced, having been to two Olympics, but that counted for little as she went out at the first time of asking, just like the rest, with Okong’o winning one match.

Although coach Musa Benjamin defended his charges saying most of them are young and relatively inexperienced, the poor show is a continuation of the dwindling fortunes of the game which is blamed on the Boxing Federation of Kenya (BFK) who seems not ready to get away from the rinse and repeat strategy.

“Most of our boxers save for one are young whose international career has started to take shape. They must be given time before maturing just like others who reached the same (global) stages but qualified either on their second or third attempt,” said Benjamin, as quoted by the Standard.

Benjamin and his assistants David Munuhe and John Waweru have held their positions for long without any positive outcomes but what makes it more interesting is that they are also officials of BFK.

It means there is little to zero accountability when they underperform and as the people who are supposed to ask the hard questions are the ones holding coaching positions.

The result is what has been witnessed in Senegal, Italy and now Thailand, adding onto a catalogue of poor showing in previous major events.

The year 2024 is an all-time low as Kenya will not have a representative at the Olympics since the scoring system was introduced at the 1992 Barcelona Games.

Boxing is the only other sport to have won Kenya an Olympics medal but the last one arrived in 1988 through Robert Wangila. However, the country has always had boxers at the Games except at the 1976 and 1980 editions through politically-instigated boycotts.

Kenyan boxers and coaches have mastered a script of always blaming ‘unfair’ officiating whenever they lose but with poor preparations and lack of accountability, they stood no chance even if the officiating was good.

The Bangkok horror show should therefore serve as a wakeup call to BFK to either change strategy or sink even further.

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