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Boxing team leaves for international training camp



The Botswana national boxing team athlets have once again proven that they are a dominant force in the region after defending their Zone IV championship in Mozambique over the weekend.

However, the battle has just begun for the talented nine-athlete strong team. The team, which consists of six men and three women, will now focus on qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

The all-conquering squad, which arrived home earlier this week will not be taking any break as the pugilists will now move on to an international training camp that includes stop overs in Morocco, France and Kazakhstan later this month.

However, there is a place for only three boxers – two men and one woman – who will add to the numbers in the 2016 Botswana Olympic team. After the international training camp, Team Botswana will face a stiff test at the 2016 Olympic qualifiers scheduled for Cameroon in March.

Botswana was in sheer dominance in Maputo, with power-punching welterweight (69kg) Lentswe Zwinila defeating Lorenzo Cossa of Mozambique 3-0 while 75kg contender Zibani Chikanda dominated Snamiso Nutu.

In addition, local pugilist wonder kid Kabelo Bagwasi not only outclassed Paulo Jorge of Mozambique at lightweight (60 kg) but was also crowned boxer of the tournament. Marshall Mokgwaela won his 52kg bout against a South African opponent.

Meanwhile, both Otukile Mahommed and Kutlwano Ogaketse lost their bouts while in the women’s category, Koketso Dipogiso beat SA’s Bathabile Zigubu. Keamogetse Kenosi and Keneilwe Rakhudu lost their bouts.

In an interview this week, Botswana Boxing Association’s (BoBA) spokesperson Kenny Maragana said the team gave a stellar performance at the Zone IV showdown.

However, he added that the bus trip to Mozambique was not without any challenges as the team experienced a breakdown in SA en-route to Gaborone. Johannes Ditlhabang coaches the men’s team while the women’s team is under Thebe Setlalekgosi.

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Local boxers ready for regional tourney



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



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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