Six boxers knocked out as The Hit Squad takes shape

Lightwelter boxer Everlyn Akinyi in a past training session. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Six boxers have been dropped from the national team preparing for the African Olympic qualifiers to be staged in Dakar, Senegal from February 20-29.

Lightweight Ethan Maina of Kenya Police and super heavyweight Hezron Maganga of Kenya Defence Forces were some of the unlucky lot, who fell by the wayside in the team’s residential training in Nanyuki, yesterday.

The female boxers dropped are flyweight Ann Wanjiru of Kongowea and Veronica Mbithe of KDF, lightweight Stacy Ayoma of Nairobi and policewoman Lorna Kusa.

This has left 19 boxers and six coaches in residential training under head Coach Musa Benjamin of Undugu Boxing Club.

Other tacticians include deputy head coach David Munuhe and assistants John Waweru, Lemmy Katibi ‘Cobra’, Julius Theuri and Charles Mukula.

Munuhe said they have had only one change in weight categories since they began the non-residential training at Mathare Police Depot in Nairobi, with national middleweight champion Edwin Okongo shifting to light heavyweight, where he will face Humphrey Ochieng ‘Jakababa’ for a ticket to the continental qualifiers.

“Okong’o was unable to ply his trade in the middleweight (75kg) after adding weight, which forced him to move to the light heavyweight (81kg) against Jakababa,” Munuhe said.

He said the training will help boxers gel faster while giving the coaches a chance to closely monitor performance, weaknesses and strengths of the playing unit.

In the second purge of the playing unit, coach Benjamin has retained some experienced boxers in a squad that will later be trimmed to eight male and five female boxers before they leave for Senegal on February 17.

They are led by Africa Boxing Union middleweight professional champion Rayton Okwiri, the 2014 Commonwealth Games lightweight bronze medallist Nick Okoth, African Games flyweight silver medallist Shaffi Hassan Bakari and Olympian and African Games heavyweight bronze medallist, Elly Ajowi.

African Games super heavyweight bronze medallist Fred Ramogi has also been included in the squad after missing the final leg of the national Boxing League in Kisumu in November, when the squad was named.

Others in camp are flyweight David Karanja, featherweight Martin Oduor, lightweights Joseph Shigali and Victor Odhiambo, welterweight Boniface Mogunde and middleweight George Cosby Ouma.

The rest are light heavyweight Humphrey Ochieng ‘Jakababa’ and heavyweight Joshua Wasike.

The female boxers include 2018 Commonwealth Games flyweight bronze medallist Christine Ongare, Olympian and national middleweight champion Elizabeth Andiego, welterweight Elizabeth Akinyi, lightweight Evelyn Akinyi and debutante and national featherweight champion Beatrice Akoth.