‘Local boxing on the ascendency’
LESOTHO Boxing Association (LeBA) president Takatso Ramakhula says the three gold medals local boxers won at a South African tournament last week was testament to the revival of the sport in the country.
Three out of five local boxers who participated in the Nelson Mandela Games in East London walked away with gold medals. The annual tournament is held by the Eastern Cape Province to commemorate the late South African statesman’s birthday which was on 18 July 1918.
The three boxers, Neo Thamahane, Qhoboshenae Mohlerepe and Tieho Ntulo triumphed in the light-welterweight, welterweight and heavy weight divisions respectively. However, the duo of Teboho Masiu (light fly weight) and Khauhelo Mothunyane (lightweight) lost their fights.
In an interview with the Sunday Express this past week, Ramakhula said he was very impressed with how his team faired against very formidable South African competition.
“Eastern Cape province are the current South Africa boxing champions, and the fact that my boys managed to win against them shows we are on the right path,” he said.
“Mohlerepe’s opponent is the South African champion in the welterweight division, while Thamahane’s opponent is the Eastern Cape champion. So, the boys did a very outstanding job. Ntulo’s win was a walkover because his opponent just disappeared when the time for their fight arrived.”
Ramakhula added: “The tournament we participated in is usually reserved for SA provinces only, but the Eastern Cape invited us this year because they wanted a team that can challenge them. They asked for a team of eight boxers, but due to financial constraints, we managed to send five.”
He said local boxing was on the ascendency and reclaiming its lost lustre as shown by the Olympic qualification of Moroke Mokhotho and Inkululeko Suntele.
“We used to have good boxers in this country, but we encountered a lot of challenges and the sport suffered. However, we are coming back with full force. The last time our boxers qualified for the Olympics was in 2000 and it was two people. We will also be sending two this year.”
Ramakhula also revealed the association would launch a programme immediately after the Olympics to prepare four boxers for the 2018 Commonwealth Games and 2020 Olympic Games.
“We have lined up a project, in conjunction with the Lesotho National Olympics Committee, whereby the Rio Olympics-bound duo of Moroke Mokhotho and Inkululeko Suntele will be joined by two yet-to-be-selected boxers in preparation for the next Commonwealth and Olympic games,” he said.