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Champion Okwiri still optimistic of Olympic slot

By Amos Abuga
Friday, July 17th, 2020
Rayton Okwiri (left) takes on Libyan Mostafa Gala Morsy in a middleweight fight. Photo/PD/DAVID NDOLO

Former Africa Boxing Union middleweight champion Rayton Okwiri says his second Olympics appearance  dream remains alive.

The pugilist says he is continuing with his training as he awaits the new world qualifiers date and he is hopeful he will be at his best when they resume. 

Despite failing to secure direct qualification when the African Olympics Qualifiers were staged in Dakar, Senegal, four months ago, Okwiri says he does not feel bad having to take the longer route to achieve his goals.

The Kenya Prisons officer maintains his defeat to Ugandan David Ssemujji was not genuine, something he is determined to undo when he gets the second chance.

World Olympic qualifiers were initially slated for Paris, France, in July, but have since  been postponed  due to the health concerns posed by the novel coronavirus.

“I am only speaking out because I know my victory was stolen. Everyone saw how controversial the split decision was. I am training hard for my second and only chance to make it to Tokyo,” added Okwiri.

He says he does not regret giving up his African Boxing Union middleweight belt  in an effort to try his chances at qualifying for the Olympics.

“The good thing is that the new AIBA rules are flexible, they allow one to go  professional and provide an opportunity to  try out for the Olympics,” he added.

That he reached the quarter-finals in Rio 2016 is a further incentive for the boxer.

“I want to keep my head high and  keep working hard for my opportunity. The good thing is I have faith in myself.” 

Okwiri is hoping to join 2015 African Boxing Championships gold medallist Nick Okoth and Commonwealth Games flyweight bronze holder Christine Ongare in Tokyo.

In the Africa qualifiers, Kenya tied fifth with Tunisia, Ghana and Mozambique after each team sent two boxers to the Tokyo Games.