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Team Nigeria with AFBC President, Eyassu Berhanu after the closing and medal ceremonies of the 13th Africa Games boxing tournament at the Bukom Boxing Arena

Africa Games

Africa Games Boxing Tournament in Accra, Ghana, March 15-22: Nigeria on cloud nine

Dominant Nigerian boxers won the Africa Games boxing tournament with an astonishing eight gold medals and two silvers as the curtain came down on the fiercely contested show at Bukom Boxing Arena in Accra, Ghana.

It was the best ever performance by the Nigerians in the Africa Games boxing competition, emerging overall winners for the third time after winning in 1973 in Lagos and 2003 in Abuja.

The excited Nigerians are definitely on cloud nine for their superb performance which deserves a token of appreciation from the generous government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

By winning eight gold medals, Nigeria equalled Kenya’s feat of scooping the same number of gold medals at the 1987 African Games in Nairobi. Nigeria also set a new record of 10 boxers qualifying for the finals of the African Games boxing tournament. Well done national coach Tony Konyegewachie for a job well done.

Light-flyweight Zainabu Adeshina, beaten by Algeria’s Roumaysa Boualam and bantamweight Shukurat Kareem, who was defeated 5-0 by Morocco’s entertainer Widad Bertal, were the only two Nigerian losers in the finals.

The eight gold medallists: featherweight Joy Ojo Nene, men’s featherweight Dolapo Omole, middleweight Patricia Mbata, heavyweight Adams Olaore, lightweight Cynthia Ogunsemilore, light-middleweight Blessing Oraekwe, light-heavyweight Jacinta Umunnakwe and super-heavyweight Ifeanyi Onyekwere.

Defending champions Morocco 2-2-3, whose two gold medallists were world heavyweight champion Khadija Mardi and Africa bantamweight champion, Widad Bertal, dropped to sixth position with their arch-rivals Algeria 4-2-5 having the last laugh in the North Africa supremacy battle by finishing second followed by Ghana 4-1-2, DR Congo 2-5-4 and Zambia 2-3-2 in fifth position.

Flyweight Patrick Chinyemba and welterweight Gerald Kabinda won Zambia’s two gold medals while lightweight Andrew Chilata, bantamweight Mwengo Mwale and light-welterweight Emmanuel Katema return home with silver medals.

Ghana’s Janet Acquah who won bronze in women’s minimumweight with Team Ghana head trainer, Ofori Asare

Ghana may have put up their best ever performance in the African Games boxing tournament but failing to win the overall title for the first time was a bitter pill to swallow. Ghana’s four gold medallists were minimumweight Mohammed Aryeetey, bantamweight Amadu Mohammed, lightweight Joseph Commey and light-welterweight Samuel Takyi with cruiserweight Abubakar Kamoko settling for silver and two bronze medals from minimumweight Janet Acquah and flyweight Theo Allotey.

Mozambique glamour girls, light-middleweight Alicinda Dos Santos and middleweight Rady Gramane – both double Africa champions – were this time demoted by Nigerian boxers to silver and bronze medals respectively having dominated the African events for the last three years. Take heart champs. You win some and lose some. All the three Mozambique finalists lost. Featherweight Armando Sigauque was beaten by Nigeria’s Dolapo Omole and welterweight Isabel Mulungo defeated by Ethiopia’s Betel Wolde Dedi.Mozambique 0-3-1 finished 9th and South Africa 0-1-1 took the 12th position.

In a battle of southpaws, Alcinda suffered a shocking points defeat to aggressive and colourful Blessings Oraekwe and Gramane was silenced by London-based Patricia Mbata in the semi-finals.

Kudos to Ethiopia 2-0-0 and Kenya 1-0-1 for their notable performance with the Horn of Africa country winning two gold medals to finish seventh followed by eighth-placed Kenya on one gold and a bronze.

Sensational flyweight Getelhem Gayiza won flyweight gold by outpointing Morocco’s more experienced Rabab Cheddar and Gete Wolde Dedi clinched welterweight gold.

Our salute to Kenya Defence Forces soldier, Edwin Okong’o, for putting a smile on the faces of success-starved Kenyan boxing fans and ending East Africa’s 17-year gold medal drought in the African Games by outpointing Morocco’s Yassine Elouarz in the finals. Cheers to female bantamweight bronze medallist Amina Martha for your courage and determination. We wish you quick recovery following a right shoulder injury in semi-final bout against Nigeria’s Shukurat Kareem.

With Kenya the top East African country in Accra, their neighbours Tanzania and Uganda placed joint 15th position each winning three bronze medals though ring analysts felt Tanzania’s light-heavyweight Yusuf Changalawe should have won his semi-final bout against DR Congo’s Pita Kabeji. Tanzania’s other two bronze medals came from lightweight Ezra Paul and cruiserweight Musa Maregesi while Uganda got theirs from minimumweight Innocent Tumusiime, featherweight Kassim Murungi and light-middleweight Muzamir Semuddu.

Tunisia 0-2-5 and Egypt 0-2-2 are used to finish among the top countries but this time around they’ve slumped to 10th and 11th positions without a single gold medal.

On a lighter note, I had to use my binoculars to locate my Southern Africa friends Botswana on the medals table.

They’re anchored at the bottom of the table with a bronze by featherweight Keamogetse Kenosi who was the defending champion. Botswana is however not alone at the bottom as they have the warm company of Mauritius, Cameroon and Liberia, each one of them with a bronze like Botswana.

Take heart. Something is better than nothing at all. In any case Botswana did very well in 2019 by finishing second behind overall winners Morocco. Unfair officiating in bouts involving bantamweight George Molwantwa and flyweight Rajab Otukile Mahomed cannot go unnoticed.

For those countries which did not win medals, remain inspired with the Olympic motto: participation is more important than winning medals. Encouragingly, some of you also hooked up with your buddies after a long time. That’s the joy of the African Games. Remain inspired as we now turn our focus to the inaugural Mandela Boxing Cup tournament scheduled for April 15 -21 in Durban, South Africa.

Credit: AFBC Communications

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