DELHI, India- Light flyweight, Shaffi Bakari, the remaining Kenyan ‘Hit Squad’ fighter in the running at India Open Boxing Championships bowed out on unanimous decision to home boxer, Sharma Himanshu, in the quarters.
Bakari’s exit ended the interest of Kenya at the tournament that has attracted over 20 countries at Thyagaraj Stadium, New Delhi with questions raised on the team that is preparing to represent the country at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Having promised a medal-laden outing in Delhi, the ‘Hit Squad’ has been left to lick its wounds with a lot to ponder ahead of the Club Games in Gold Coast Australia in April.
Two-time Commonwealth medallist, Benson Gicharu and African middleweight champion, Nick Okoth, were among the nine male Kenyan boxers who fell at the first hurdle.
Three of their female teammates, including Olympian Elizabeth Andiego, made to the quarters before crashing out.
“The competition is tough over here, but again, some of the decisions made by some referees were questionable,” Boxing Association of Kenya President, John Kameta, lamented.
Gicharu, lost to Azizi Laisulla of Afghanistan in the bantamweight division while Okoth fell to Wongsuvan Somchay of Thailand on unanimous points decision.
Likewise, Jacob Kimathi lost to Manou Kumar of India in welterweight category on points in the same manner Mohammed Ali met his Waterloo in the flyweight, beaten by David Mwale of Zambia.
Victor Odhiambo lost 3-0 to Albert Ayissi of Cameroon in light welter with Edwin Okong’o losing to Van Hloipua of India in the middleweight division.
Elly Ajowi who had a bye in heavyweight preliminaries lost 5-0 to C. Sanjeet of India.
Fred Ramogi lost on ‘Referee Stop Contest’ against Aresene Fokou Fosso of Comoros in the second round of super heavyweight duel.
Veronica Mbithe (light fly) and Lonah Kusah (lightweight) progressed to the quarters alongside Andiego (middleweight) before their charge for the podium ended at the last eight.
On their way to the quarters, Kusa won against Seesondee Sudaporn of Nepal on points, Mbithe floored Maharjan Lalita of Nepal while Andiego defeated Munkhbat Myagmarjargal of Mongolia also on points.
Christine Ongare was defeated 5-0 by India’s top seed and world silver medalist Sarju Bala who assured her country of their first medal in the championships.
Head coach, Patrick Maina, complained over Nick Abaka’s loss to Aryububi Faizulla of Afghanistan in the light heavy category.
“I believe Abaka was denied victory. Also, Andiego’s loss in the quarters was questionable,” the coach alleged.
“The tournament has, however, shown us our weaknesses. We will make amends when we start serious training for Commonwealth Games when we return home.
“We now have a clear picture of some of the countries and boxers who we will meet in the Club Games,” Maina added in drawing a silver lining to the underwhelming performance.
David Munuhe, Sammy Magima and William Okumu are the other members of the technical bench who travelled with the team.
Judging by the outcome from India, where Gicharu won silver at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the ‘Hit Squad’ has a race against time to get battle-ready for Gold Coast.
SQUAD For India Championships
Shaffi Bakari (Kenya Police)-Light fly
Mohammed Ali (Kongowea)-Flyweight
Benson Gicharu (Kenya Police)-Bantamweight
Nick Okoth (KDF)-Middleweight
Victor Onyango (KDF)-Lightweight
Jacob Kimathi (Kenya Prisons)-Welter
Edwin Okongo (KDF)-Middleweight
Nick Abaka (KDF)-Light heavy
Elly Ajowi (Kenya Police)-Heavyweight
Veronica Mbithe (Dallas)-Flyweight
Lonah Kusa (Nairobi)-Light welter
Christine Ongare (Nairobi)-Bantamweight
Elizabeth Andiego (Nairobi)Middleweight