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Footballer-turned-boxer eyes African Games glory

Wednesday August 14 2019

Boniface Mugunde of Kenya men's national boxing team trains at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on August 6, 2019 ahead of African Games to be held in Morocco from August 19 to 31, 2019. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT |

Boniface Mugunde of Kenya men's national boxing team trains at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani on August 6, 2019 ahead of African Games to be held in Morocco from August 19 to 31, 2019. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

FRANCIS MUREITHI
By FRANCIS MUREITHI
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Outside the boxing ring 26-year-old Boniface Mugunde is a diplomatic soldier attached at Gigiri in Nairobi taking care of the security of diplomats seconded to Kenya by their countries.

And probably this is what many of his kinsmen in Kisii County know about police constable Mugunde.

But Mugunde is also a rising welterweight (69kg) boxer who will be representing Kenya at the African Games in Morocoo.

He is one of the three debutants - in the eight-man national team “Hit Squad” which also has four women - who will be making their first attempt to win a medal for Kenya when the boxing competition starts from August 20-29 in Rabat. The other newcomers include Ethan Maina (lightweight) and George Cosby Ouma (middleweight).

“I want to prove to Kenyans and boxing fraternity at large that beside my diplomatic roles, I am also capable of bringing glory to this country in the ring,” said Mugunde.

Mugunde, who missed last year's Commonwealth Games after losing in the final trials, says he is now equal to the task.

“Even before I joined the Kasarani training camp I have maintained a rigorous training schedule because my ultimate dream is to win my first ever continental medal,” said the Matungulu Boys High School alumnus.

Before venturing into boxing, Mugunde was a football player but being constantly benched watered down his ambitions of becoming a football star.

“Unlike football which is a team sport where you depend on others to shine, boxing is an individual sport. Your rise to stardom depends on your efforts and that is why I abandoned football,” recalls Mugunde who started boxing at Embakasi, Nairobi under coach Wala.

His sterling performance caught the eye of Kenya Police “Chafua Chafua” head coach David Munuhe who recruited him to the team.

The third born in a family of three girls and two boys, says initially his parents Tom Begi and Teresa Kemunto were not of the idea boxing was the best sport for him.

“Dad and mum were worried that my head would be smashed in the ring but when I was employed by Kenya Police through boxing, that changed their mentality and today they are my biggest supporters in and out of the ring,” said Mugunde.

Munuhe, who is deputising head coach Benjamin Musa at the national team, believes Mugunde has potential to climb to professional ring.

“He has a devastating punching power which if put into good use in the ring is capable of destroying his opponents,” said Munuhe.

And it is this secret that Mugunde hopes to use to write his name in boxing history books during the 12th edition of the African Games.

“I am a strong believer and with God on my side I am hopeful of returning back home with a glittering medal,” said Mugunde who is a great admirer of renowned American boxer Floyd Mayweather.

Mugunde, who has been working hard in training at Kasarani to assemble a water tight guard, had a good run in the domestic league.

He destroyed all his opponents in the three legs of the national league in Busia, Nakuru and Mombasa to stamp his authority in the welterweight category before flooring his opponent in the Kenya Open championships in Mombasa last month.

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