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Curtain falls for Chikanda

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BY NEO MASANAKO The 2016 Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) sports man of the year Zibani Chikanda has decided to hang up his boxing gloves. Chikanda’s last bout was during the national championships held last year in Gaborone, He easily defeated his opponent 3-0 to retain his title as the under 75kg champion, a position he held for the past nine years. Chikanda’s journey in the boxing fraternity began almost a decade ago and now at the age of 33, Chikanda feels that his body has had enough.

According to the athlete, the time has come to let it all go and make way for fresh blood to take local amateur boxing forward. He is currently an assistant coach at his club, Eastern Military Garrison (EMG) and is waiting for the right time to make a permanent move into the coaching sphere.‘ I am not getting any younger, I now want to be to a coach, God willing I am also eyeing become a national team coach in future,’ Chikanda said in an interview recently. Nevertheless the hard- hitting Chikanda said he will miss competing in the ring mostly, especially when he battled rivals from Diamond Trading Company Botswana (DTCB) boxing club including Thabang Motsewabeng and Kagiso Bagwasi.

In addition, Chikanda mentioned the likes of Lentswe Zwinila of Glen Valley Club and Mmusi Tswiige of Prisons as some of the athletes who made his boxing days both exciting and memorable. He defined Motsewabeng as a best friend that helped him mature fast in the combat sport. However during matches time, they often turned into sworn enemies, “ He always gave me stiff competition in the ring and I will always cherish our moments together.”

Meanwhile Chikanda commands an illustrious international career having won gold at the Zone 4 competitions held in Pretoria in 2015, he also went on to grab silver at the African Championships held in Morocco. It was still in the year 2015 that he managed to qualify for the World Championships staged in Doha, he however exited in the preliminary stages. Looking back, Chikanda has no regrets but said he had wished to compete at the Olympics and the Commonwealth games before he retired.

Nevertheless he said he will find comfort in working tirelessly to assist upcoming boxers realize their dreams. His former coach Emmanuel Galeboe defined Chikanda as a boxer to reckon with, “I believed he was still an asset to the country however there is an end to everything, he needs to rest,” Galeboe said. Galeboe further said the athlete was highly disciplined and implemented all his instructions in the ring. The coach said it was only through perseverance and determination that Chikanda managed to remain a champion for nine years.

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Local boxers ready for regional tourney

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CONFIDENT: Newly unveiled LOC is confident that the regional tourney will be a success

Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA) this past Tuesday officially unveiled a Local Organising Committee (LOC) that has been tasked with preparing for the upcoming Zone 4 championships that are to be held in Botswana.

The team is headed by celebrated boxing legend France Mabiletsa and is expected to host more than seven countries that are expected to descend in Botswana in the next two weeks. Officiating at the event, Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) Vice Chairperson Tsoseletso Magang said that BoBA officials should refrain from interfering with the task given to the LOC. She noted that many sporting codes often give the LOC the responsibility of delivering an event only for the code members to bully themselves into the affairs of the LOC and disrupts the preparations.

Magang warned that there is little time left before the tournament, and with that, the LOC will need all the support to ensure they deliver a successful event. She noted that hosting the regional tournament gave Botswana an upper hand of fielding more athletes that will have an opportunity to qualify for the Africa Championships scheduled for later this year.

For his part, Mabiletsa noted that they have already hit the ground running and confident that the event will be a success. The competition will be hosted in Botho College and they are in talks with Ave Maria to accommodate athletes. “Life will be made much easier for athletes if they are accommodated at Ave Maria because it is closer to the competition venue,” he said.

He explained that the zone is made up of 12 countries of Lesotho, Angola, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe among others. However as of this past Tuesday, only seven had confirmed participation and they expect to finalize the logistics by the end of the week.

Meanwhile, a formidable national boxing team of eight men captained by Mmusie Tswiiige (60kg) and three ladies led by Lethabo Modukanele (48kg) will represent the country at the regional tournament.

According to the Head coach Lechedzani ‘Master’ Luza, the team has been on camp for the past three weeks. In his opinion, the team is ready to compete. “Generally, they are not bad, we need to work on a few things such as power and speed on some boxers, the defence department is also not bad,” he said.

Luza noted that Botswana has always established herself as a powerhouse and there is no doubt that majority, if not all team Botswana members will win a medal during competition time. He explained that the competition was one of the many leading to Tokyo 2020 Olympics and will give local boxers an opportunity to qualify for the Olympics.

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Branch does it again

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Local motorcycle racing sensation Ross Branch has continued his stellar form after securing overall second position in the internationally renowned Merzouga Rally. The race came to a conclusion this past weekend and Branch has proven his mettle amongst some of the best rally motorcyclists in the world.

The podium finish is expected to take the Dakar Rally racer to even greater heights in the hugely competitive and expensive sport. It has been barely two months since the talented local rider emerged as a top class racer at the Dakar Rally where he finished 13 and walked away with the fastest rookie of the 10 000 km odyssey.

At Merzouga, things seemed a little better for the rider as the terrain offer sand and rock as opposed to the treacherous dunes in Dakar. Branch who was using a different navigation system in Morocco showed his pace after winning the fourth stage of the race last week Thursday.

Prior to his podium finish Branch said Merzouga was only his second rally and he was willing to learn from some of the top riders in the sport. The KTM 450cc rider said he was now setting his sights on other major races including the 2020 Dakar Rally that has been confirmed for Saudi Arabia.

Since returning from the Dakar, Ross has stayed busy and competed at the cross-country championship in Kwazulu Natal in South Africa, where he finished fourth. The local rider is expected to compete at the upcoming 1000 km Toyota Desert Race, an event he has won more than seven times.

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