LESOTHO Boxing Association (LeBA) president, Moses Kopo, said they failed Nkululeko Suntele and his family by failing to offer more help which could have saved the boxing star from an untimely death.
Kopo said this while addressing scorers of people who attended Suntele’s funeral service at his home in Sea-point in Maseru yesterday.
The lanky Olympian boxer met his untimely death on the night of 27 October after being stabbed in a brawl that took place in Maseru.
The 23-year old Suntele was reportedly stabbed while recuperating from stab wounds inflicted on him a few weeks earlier by the same culprit.
Suntele represented the country at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Brazil. He won gold at the2012 Supreme Council for Sports in Africa in Zambia.
And Kopo, 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games silver medalist, believes the association could have done more to help the late boxer to stay out of trouble.
“As the boxing association I believe we have failed the Suntele’s family because they gave us their son alive and unfortunately we could not help him to avoid this unfortunate situation that led to his death,” Kopo said.
“This is a very sad moment for us and we are deeply sorry that we couldn’t save his (Suntele’s) life. We lost a very precious stone in this young man. Lesotho has lost a talent,” Kopo said.
Suntele’s cousin, Phiri Motemekoane, touched the hearts of the mourners when he said that Suntele left them too soon when they were still expecting so much from him.
“He left us too soon and the family was expecting more from him. We are talking about an athlete who won numerous gold medals at local and international competitions since he began his career in 2006.
“He was a cousin but we grew up as brothers. When he came back after being knocked out in the first round of the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, I remember asking him if he had learned anything that would help him become a better boxer.
“His answer was a simple yes and he didn’t disappoint as two years later he became the first Lesotho boxer to qualify for the Olympics winning a silver medal at the qualifiers that were held in Cameroon,” an emotional Motemekoane said.
Motemekoane admitted that growing at the dusty streets of the Sea-Point was a challenge as the place was notorious for violence and many unwholesome activities.
“Surviving in this neighborhood is very challenging and I just hope and wish that there was something to be done to avoid incidents like this one where we end up losing very important people because of the violence in our place. I remember also talking to him about the likes of (American) boxing sensation Floyd Mayweather Jr who also grew up in similar places in America and how he managed to survive the challenges faced in the hood to become a superstar. I believed that Suntele would one day win this country a gold at the Olympics or Commonwealth Games but death took him and who are we to complain. All that we can do now is to hope his soul rests in peace.”
Suntele’s career started at the age of 12 in 2006 at Best Boxers Club (BBC) under the guidance of the former LeBA president Takatso Ramakhula. In 2014 he made his first international appearance representing the country in friendly tournament in Botswana where he won gold.
He was also won gold at the Vision 2020 Games for three consecutive years.
In 2012 he joined Lerotholi Polytechnic club and booked a spot at the Africa Union Sports Council (AUSC) games held in Zambia that same year. He won gold. He also represented the country at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland.
He was also selected for the 2016 Olympics Scholarship programme in 2014 and he did not disappoint as he qualified for the Rio Olympics in Brazil.
He died while he was on a two year 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Scholarship programme.