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Veliswa Magaya with coach Maxwell Ngwenya during a training session. (Photo courtesy Eswatini Times)

Boxing

Thabiso Dlamini dropped as Eswatini select 11 boxers for Mandela Cup

For the first time since he made his international debut for Eswatini in 2010, Thabiso Dlamini – the face of boxing in the tiny Southern African country – has been dropped from the national team.

Thabiso is not among the 11 boxers – eight men and three women – selected by Eswatini Boxing Association (EBA) to represent the national team in the inaugural Mandela African Boxing Cup tournament in Durban from April 15-21.

Newcomer, national champion Mitto Larches, is the man picked to replace Thabiso in the welterweight division.

Explaining why Thabiso has been left out of the team for Durban, ESA secretary-general Nathi Dlamini said Thabiso is the longest serving international and therefore they felt it’s time to inject new blood in the national team.

“The Association took a decision to expose another passionate hard working boxer in his division since he has been representing the country for a very long time. When he was away from the country, the new boxer in his division has been the national champion,” said Nathi.

“After the African Games Thabiso can now focus on the 2nd World Olympic Qualifiers by training hard. Missing this tournament won’t cost him much since he is a boxer with a lot of experience.”

Nathi said the Durban-bound team includes eight newcomers who are all national champions in their respective weight divisions.

The fresh faces on the big stage are:

Men
1) Nhlahla Dlamini under 51kg
2) Khaya Shongwe under 54kg
3) Mukelo Dlamini under 57kg
4) Phelindaba Gamedze under 63.5kg
5) Mitto Larches under 67kg
6)Nkosinathi Dvuba under 75kg

Women
1) Lucia Groeining under 63kg
2) Temalangeni Dlamini under 70kg

The three regulars retained in the team are lightweight Andiswa Sibandze and light-middleweight Mayibongwe Mdluli, both of whom represented Eswatini at the 2022 Africa Championships in Maputo, and female light-flyweight Veliswa Magaya, silver medallist in the 2021 Region Five Games in Lesotho, and who last year was in India for the World Championships, losing to neighbour Thandolwethu Mathiba who became the first South African female boxer to win a fight in the World Championships.

The following are the coaches selected:

Douglas Simelane
Maxwell Ngwenya
Muzi Shongwe
Ndumiso Mthembu

Mpendulo Mbingo cutman

Contacted, Thabiso, now back home after a one-year training scholarship in Moscow, said it’s okay for ESA to give the national champions priority.

“Since I was in Russia during the national championships no worries on the choices made but I needed the competition to prepare myself for the Olympic qualifiers in Thailand,” said Thabiso.

“No hard feelings at all for new boxers getting a chance it’s something I couldn’t change, my focus is now on the Olympic qualifiers in Thailand.”

Thabiso has thrice represented Eswatini in the Africa Championships and the Commonwealth Games in 2014 Scotland, 2018 Australia and 2022 Birmingham.

In the Africa Championships, he made it to the quarter-finals in 2015 in Morocco and 2022 in Mozambique, and last 16 in Cameroon. He won a bronze medal at the 2022 Zone 4 Championships in Mozambique.

Credit: AFBC Communication

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