By Carlos Kambaekwa
With just four months left before the torch is lit at this year’s Beijing Olympics, Namibia is already assured of a decent representation in the boxing discipline after local boxers gave a good account of themselves during the just ended International Boxing Association’s (AIBA) final leg of the Africa Olympic qualifiers.
The Namibian pair of Julius Indongo (Lightweight) and the enterprising Welterweight boxer Desmond Mejandjae Kasuto punched their way through to Beijing and now join Japhet Uutoni to complete Namibia’s entry in the boxing discipline when the global showpiece gets under way in August later this year.
The red hot Kasuto came face to face with the tricky Johnny Koen from South Africa in the semifinal of the Welterweight division and made short work of the eagerly awaited clash.
The bout lasted less than 6 minutes after the ring judges signalled the end of the second round with the Namibian boxers having garnered sufficient points at that juncture to end the contest and set up a grand finale against Nickson Abaka from Kenya.
The evenly contested bout failed to produce any points in round one and both boxers returned to their respective corners exactly in the same situation in which they started off.
Kasuto came out like a man possessed in the second round and peppered the Kenyan with a combination of well-calculated deliveries with two of those hitting the target – leaving the fired-up Namibian boxer with a two-point cushion going into round three.
He added another well-deserved point in the next round and held on for a nail-biting finish after completion of round three.
Urged on by a partisan home crowd and sensing victory, Kasuto reserved the best for last and demonstrated his intentions very clearly at the start of the final round by taking the fight to his more experienced opponent, forcing the Kenyan to make elementary errors as he resorted to throwing wild punches, obviously in a desperate effort to catch up with his arrears on the scoreboard.
Kasuto kept his cool, exercised patience and timed his deliveries with the precision of a seasoned butcher and added four more points to his tally by the end of the last round – thus coming out victorious with a resounding win to take the gold medal (7 – 0).
The soft spoken boy from the Cattle Country was also chosen as the overall best boxer of the tournament after completion of the competition at the University of Namibia’s Gymnasium on Saturday.
In other action, local boxer Simon Johannes lost his quarterfinal bout against Bernard Ngumba from Kenya in the Flyweight division – going down by 4 points to 1, and Julius Indongo was quite a hot potato to handle against his opponent Ghislain Maduma from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Namibian ended the Congolese’s Olympic ambitions in a one sided Lightweight quarterfinal bout that saw the Namibian mustering a commendable ratio of one point from each round without conceding any.
However, Indongo failed to clear the hurdle in the semifinals on Friday when he lost his bout against the hard-hitting Nigerian boxer Lawal Rasheed (4 – 1), and had to settle it out with Achille Apie from Cameroon for the remaining available place in the Lightweight division.
The Namibian won his fight against the Cameroonian and secured himself a bronze medal in addition to his qualification for the Beijing Olympics.
Namibia’s hopeful in the Heavyweight category Tobias Munihango could hardly throw any significant blow in the direction of his more aggressive opponent and suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the cat-footed Olanrewaju Durodola from Nigeria (8 – 0) in the semifinals.
Hosts Namibia had eight entries at the beginning of the 2nd and final leg of the AIBA Africa Qualification Tournament, which ended in Windhoek on Saturday, with six of the Olympic hopefuls falling by the wayside during the preliminaries.
With the exception of Heavyweight boxer Tobias Munihango and Simon Johannes (Flyweight), the remaining quartet failed to win their opening bouts and became early casualties in the preliminaries.