By Carlos Kambaekwa
Namibia came out tops in the two-nation boxing tourney against Botswana at the Epako Hall in Gobabis on Friday evening.
Both countries used the competition as a springboard for the upcoming African Olympic Qualifiers to be hosted by Namibia next week, and despite clinching five from the seven places up for grabs the Namibians will have a tall order if they hope to add a few more names alongside that of Japhet Uutoni when the Olympic torch is lit in Beijing later this year.
Homeboy Michael Hamunyela from Omaheke Region did not disappoint the enthusiastic crowd that braved the chilly weather and wet conditions to flock in large numbers into the tiny Epako community hall at the town.
Urged on by an appreciative audience, Hamunyela made short work of his four-round featherweight bout against Lucky Handivele from the Khomas Region – coming out triumphant with a unanimous decision.
Namibia’s Light Welterweight Commonwealth champion and Olympic bound boxer Japhet Uutoni was made to sweat and earn his bread the hard way in his fight against the stubborn Mogajane Bathusi, before the Namibian was given the nod by all judges after completion of round four.
Bathusi matched Uutoni pound for pound until the third round when the Namibian started showing his real mettle.
Simon “Baluka” Johannes narrowly defeated Bok Kgomotso in a closely contested flyweight encounter that saw the 19-year-old boxer from Botswana showing little respect if any, for his more experienced opponent.
Johannes failed to take full advantage of his tall frame and long reach by allowing the mobile youngster too much room to close him down with a combination of quick jabs and uppercuts.
However, the All Africa Games bronze medalist’s experience saw him through as he held on to come out unscathed with a unanimous points decision
In the bantamweight division, Ikgopoleg Khumiso once again demonstrated why he is rated so highly in his native country and of course proved that his Olympic qualification in Algiers was not just another flash in the pan.
The stocky Botswana featherweight champion was in mean mood in his fight against Namibia’s new kid on the block Norbert Ashivudhi and it was obvious from round one that Khumiso was the real deal.
Ashivudhi stood his ground and caught his more fancied opponent with a decent looking right hook to the exposed jaw in the opening round but his advances just seemed to irritate Khumiso who became more possessed and started peppering the Ondangwa-based boxer with a combination of punches to his head that required the referee to intervene at times.
Khumiso was eventually declared the winner after two of the judges ruled in his favour at the end of round four to give the visitors some glimmer of hope with their first victory on the night.
Lightweight boxer Immanuel Naindjala was stretched all the way before coming out tops in his bout against Batsegi Thato in a contest that could have gone either way, but the judges would have none of it and simultaneously gave the thumbs up to Naindjala.
Julius Indongo narrowly defeated Gaasite Gomotsang in the lightweight division while Nkabit Hebert proved too strong for Joseph “Bizzah” Titus in the light welterweight category.
Hebert was like a man possessed and had his opponent in all sorts of trouble in the first round as the hard-hitting Botswana boxer unleashed a combination of deliveries which confined the clearly out of depths Titus to the ropes for the better part of their contest.
Halfway through the third round, the Namibian just had enough and signalled to the referee that he had lost interest for any further participation in the contest and the man in white uniform duly obliged and awarded the bout to Hebert on a technical knock-out.
The last bout of the evening pitted Namibia’s Mejandjae Kasuto and Mothiba Moabi from Botswana and certainly lived up to its top billing with both boxers dishing it out as their lives depended largely on the outcome of the evenly contested welterweight encounter.
Kasuto narrowly scraped through 2-1 on points to give the Namibians an overall comfortable win of 5 out of seven bouts on the evening – a statistic that left Botswana coach Johannes Ditlhabana fuming.
“This was daylight robbery and certainly not in the good spirit of boxing. The results are not reflective of what happened in the boxing ring tonight – there were two other fights which under normal circumstances could have gone our way but the judges made the wrong call,” charged an irate Ditlhabana.
“If this trend continues, I don’t see the reason why we should come here time and again to be exposed to this kind of torture of biased umpiring. Surely the Namibian boxing authorities are doing an injustice to their boxers because these guys did not deserve to win tonight.”
His Namibian counterpart Elia Irimari was more tactful and felt his charges need to improve on the technical aspects and become more
“Our boxers are hopelessly too generous and forget that boxing is all about taking your chances when the situation demands – the boys must really learn to finish off their opponents when the fight is up for the taking, instead they start relaxing – a scenario that give too much recovery time to the opponents and that’s uncalled for at this level of competition.”