Kenya's first action at the London Olympics will be a tough call as Boxer Benson Njangiru faces punches from the land of Pharaohs and pyramids.
For a man whose career is lined with surprises, he may easily punch his way and crest above Hesham Abdelaal on Monday. In 2010, the Flyweight boxer made the final of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, but unfortunately he didn’t even challenge for the Gold as he withdrew through injury.
His qualification for the final itself was a surprise as it was the first time the 24 year old was fighting in a major competition against reputable flyweight boxers.
He was the only Kenyan pugilist who survived the gruelling continental qualifiers in Morocco last May booking his London ticket, making up for a disappointing showing at the All African games where he was widely tipped for the top honours in vain.
But his unpredictability could work in his favour when he takes the ring Monday afternoon at 2:30pm(4.00pm Kenyan time) the first Kenyan in action at the 2012 London Olympic games at the ExCel Arena.
“That’s the fun of boxing surprise events. I am always-surprising people, so I am just taking it bout by bout ,”Njangiru told Sportsnewsarena.com at the Olympic village as he watched some past bout videos on Youtube of Egyptian Abdelaal whom he will face on Monday.
“This is the best way I can be able to watch and see my opponent's techniques and then formulate ideas how to tackle them in the ring,”he explained.
Njangiru knows that he is not walking down unfamiliar territory as he relishes his chance at picking a medal. It is a path that six of his compatriots have plodded, winning the country nine Olympic medals.
Ibrahim Bilali won a bronze in his same weight category (fly) at the 1984 Los Angeles games and Njangiru may just end Kenya’s 28-year spell without a boxing medal.
Robert Wangila’s welter gold and Chris Sande’s bronze in the middleweight was Kenya’s best and the last in Seoul Olympics.
“Every boxer who has qualified for the Olympics can just win the medal and I am no exception. My ankle injury has eased and my weight in control so I am ready to fight!”
A two-week intensive pre-Olympic stint in Cardiff as part of the International Boxing Association, AIBA road to London, has boosted his confidence and gave him a chance to polish up his punching skills ahead of his greatest career fight.
The AIBA programme granted the Kenya Police ‘Chafua Chafua’ pugilist a chance to train under a former American Olympic coach Thomas Coulter who primed the boxers to be able to challenge the top boxers in the ring.
“The training helped me so much,” noted Njangiru. “
My punches are more powerful and precise and the sparring sessions with some of the boxers helped me boost my techniques.”
If he can go past the Egyptian he will next face Uzbekistan’s fly champion Latipov Jasurbek, seeded third here in London.
Evelyn Watta in London
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