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Debswana, BoBA reward 2014/15 star boxer

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Eastern Military Garrison (EMG) Boxing Club’s middleweight, Zibani Chikanda’s patience and hard work finally paid off when he was bestowed the Boxer of the Year Award at the Debswana Boxing Awards ceremony over the weekend.

After years of blood and sweat in the boxing ring, the military man proved that he has certainly matured like fine wine having experienced a stellar 2015 season which saw him finish in third place at the 2015 All Africa Games (AAG).

Moreover, the power punching Chikanda managed to get a silver medal at the African Confederation Boxing Championships in Casablanca, Morocco. Closer to home, the 30-year old managed to grab a gold medal at the Zone IV Games in South Africa.

It was a combined award ceremony that also recognised outstanding performers from 2014, with the Boxer of the Year Award for last year going to the abundantly talented pugilist Kagiso Bagwasi. It was a fulfilling recognition for the budding Bagwasi who beat tough competition from the likes of Mooketsi Lekgetho and Oteng Oteng to win the prestigious award.

The southpaw who is coached by 2015 Coach of the Year Thebe Setlalekgosi, has enjoyed consistent success ever since bursting onto the local boxing scene three years.

Kagiso and his younger sibling Kabelo Bagwasi have been a staple in the national team and the main attraction at BoBA interclub tournaments. Ever since being introduced to the sweet science back in 2009, Bagwasi has grown from strength to strength under the guidance of Setlalekgosi.

This year Bagwasi won a bronze medal at the 2015 All Africa Games in Brazzaville, Congo. The 22-year-old athletic pugilist also came third at the African Confederation Championship in Morocco earlier this year. His crowning moment was garnering a gold medal at the 2015 African Zone 4 Games in South Africa.

Bagwasi is now expected to qualify for next year’s 2016 Rio, Brazil Olympic games. Other 2014 winners on the night include: Female Promising Boxer of the Year, Keamogetse Kenosi; Male Promising Boxer of the Year, Mohammad Otukile; Female Boxer of the Year, Pearl Morake; Coach of the Year, Lechedzani ‘Master’ Luza; Best Judge Hlanganani Digwere and Etsogile Ngwako who won the Best Referee award.

The 2015 award winners include Orapeleng Ketshametse who scooped the Female Promising Boxer award; Mohammed Otukile the Male Promising Boxer of the year; Female boxer of the year for Koketso Dipogiso; Coach of the Year, Thebe Setlalekgosi; Best Judge Hlanganani Digwere and Best Referee, Etsogile Ngwako.

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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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