David is next hope for Team Kenya as boxer loses fight
Posted Monday, July 30 2012 at 21:44
Kenya will have to dig a lot deeper technically, financially and in terms of management to give the “Hit Squad” the sting it so badly needs to rise back to the dizzy heights that saw Robert Wangila Napunyi claim the country’s only non-athletics Olympic gold way back in 1988.
Patrick “Mont” Waweru, who was the late Wangila’s team mate at the memorable Seoul Olympics, could not hide his disappointment on Monday after the sole Kenyan boxer here, flyweight Benson Gicharu Njangiru, fell at the first hurdle, losing 19-16 on points to Egypt’s Abdelaal Hesham at the ExCel Arena.
Team Kenya will now shift focus from the ring to the pool where David Dunford takes the plunge in Heat Five of eight 100 metres freestyle heats at the Aquatics centre on Tuesday.
The competition starts at 10am and Dunford has been lined up in lane six against swimmers from Greece, Czech Republic, China, Romania, Hungary, Lithuania and Switzerland.
Watched videos of opponent
Gicharu’s only knowledge of his Egyptian opponent was from watching videos of the Ismailia man’s bronze medal-winning bout at the 2010 World Youth Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan.
And only on Monday, his corner – headed by Waweru – told him he needed to employ fresh counter-punching tactics because late information had filtered into the Kenyan camp that Hesham was a good counter-puncher.
“He beat me in the counter-punching,” Gicharu said in the mixed zone, visibly deflated as he sympathised with the scores of fans that followed the bout at his Kangema birthplace in Muranga, and in Nairobi’s South ‘B’ where he took up boxing seriously at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church.
“I learnt that he (Hesham) is a good counter-puncher and the coaches tried to give me some tips yesterday (Sunday) but it was too late,” Gicharu added.
The afternoon fight got off to a promising start, the two boxers tied at 6-6 after fighting rather cautiously.
Then Gicharu – popular with the London crowd – let his guard drop several times in the second, with Hesham’s straight punches and uppercuts filtering through to see the Egyptian lead 8-5 at the end of the round.
“I normally like challenging myself and at the end of the second round, I knew that I was training by three points and had to work my way back,” the Kenya Police boxer narrated.
But it was never to be as Hesham – fighting in the red corner – maintained the three-point advantage, winning the bout 19-16, fair and square, the lady referee, Martinez Alamonte from Dominica, hardly putting a foot wrong.
The ringside judges were Seong Won Kin (Korea), David Llaurado (USA), Yasar Cinar (Turkey), Michael Gallagher (Ireland) and Kestutis Bagdanavicius (Lithuania).
“He is a good fighter and I’d like to say sorry to my fans who were watching me and following my progress,” said Gicharu who lacked the expected Kenyan support as the entire Kenyan delegation was held up at a presidential function at which President Mwai Kibaki toured the Kenya House in Stratford.
Scheduled to start at 10.00am, the Kenya House ceremony started way after midday, less than an hour before Gicharu’s fight started at the ExCel Arena across town.
The Egyptian will now come up against seeded Jasurbek Latipov of Uzbekistan, who earned a bye into the first round, with the bout scheduled for Friday afternoon.
Gicharu will, meanwhile, have to re-invent himself and gun for better things at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and 2016 Olympics.