By Carlos Kambaekwa
Local boxers are finding the going tough in the ongoing final leg of the International Boxing Association (AIBA) Olympic qualification tournament at the University of Namibia gymnasium.
By day three, the Namibian quartet of Titus Joseph, Walter Koutondokwa, Norbert Ashivuthi and Immanuel Naindjala had all been reduced to mere spectators at the10-day event after losing their opening bouts.
Namibia’s welterweight boxer Mejandjae Kasuto dispatched Precious Makina from Tunisia in a closely contested encounter that saw the Namibian taking a slender one point lead at the end of the first round.
Urged on by a partisan crowd, Kasuto stepped up a gear and accumulated three more points in round two with the tough as steak Tunisian boxer halving the deficit going into round three.
The referee had her hands full as the bout transformed into a wrestling exhibition intermittently with both boxers clinging to each other more than throwing punches.
However, Kasuto was in mean mood and fully utilized his long reach by delivering some decent punches when the situation presented itself – much to the excitement of the home fans who were ably assisted by mass support from fellow SADC member states.
The Namibian had amassed 5 points against Makina’s 3 at the end of round three to set up a thrilling finish going into the final round.
With the home crowd shouting for a knock-out, Kasuto started to gain the upper hand and peppered his opponent with a combination of body blows but Ma- kina held on and managed to evade that elusive sucker punch that Kasuto was so dearly looking for with minimal success.
With minutes ticking away and the his corner chewing their nails to pieces, Kasuto landed a decent punch on the visibly tiring Tunisian boxer to stretch his lead by three more points – thus giving him a well deserved 6 – 3 victory over the stubborn Makina.
Kasuto now has one hand on a medal and is closer to booking himself a place amongst the Namibian contingent to the Beijing Olympics later this year after beating the hell out of his opponent in the opening rounds on Monday.
Julius Indongo, Tobias Munihango and Simon “Balooka” Johannes are the other remaining Namibian Olympic hopefuls following their impressive showing in the opening round of their respective weight categories.
Boys are expected to be separated from men when the boxers return to action tomorrow after a well-deserved break today.
Meanwhile, Kenyan boxers are on the warpath and looked destined to grab a significant number of silverware on offer and only the colour of the medals needs to be determined.