It is difficult to train alone, admits Tokyo bound boxer Okoth

By Amos Abuga
Monday, August 3rd, 2020
Kenya’s Nick Okoth (left) battles Zambia’s Everisto Mulenga during an Olympics qualifier match. Photo/PD/DAVID NDOLO
In summary
    • 2008: Bronze, President Cup Taipei (featherweight).
    • 2008: Gold, Africa Championships cum Beijing Olympics Qualifiers (featherweight).
    • 2010:Bronze, Commonwealth Games in India (bantamweight).
    • 2017: Gold, Africa Championship (lightweight).
    • 2020: Silver, African Championships cum Tokyo 2021 Qualifiers (featherweight).

When Nick ‘Commander’ Okoth qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, he did not  imagine that his training would be hampered by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Despite being assigned three top coaches in Musa Benjamin, Dave Munuhe and John Waweru, the 37-year-old KDF pugilist is disappointed that he has to train alone most of the time.

“This is the new normal. It took me a while to accept the situation. Yes there are coaches, but you only meet virtually as we have to adhere to the government protocols of no personal engagements. So yes you have to get used to it,” said Okoth

The Africa featherweight champion will be joined by Commonwealth bronze medalist Christine ‘Mamushka’ Ongare as Kenya’s sole representatives at the Games which have since been moved to 2021 due to coronavirus pandemic.

“This might be my second qualification for the Games but I was overjoyed when I booked a berth during the African qualifiers in Dakar, Senegal, in February.

It was, and still is, a sweet feeling,” said the pugilist who has been training in Ruai on the outskirts of Nairobi.

He admits despite the energy and morale, training alone comes with its disadvantages.

“We are fighting an invisible enemy you cannot punch. You have to come up with other methods of combating the pandemic.

It is new to us all, that is why we have to accept the new challenges,” offered Okoth whose training schedule the entails a 45km road run  thrice a week.

Given that he does not have a sparring mate, he has resolved to do a lot of shadow boxing alone after the runs.

“At the moment I don’t do weights, I just top the training with push-ups, speedwork and accuracy,” revealed the father of three.

Okoth who nonetheless thanks the Boxing Federation of Kenya for the support. 

The 2010 Commonwealth Games Bantamweight bronze medalist says his focus in Tokyo will be to improve on his 2008 Beijing Games performance where he was controversially eliminated by Aturo Reyes of Mexico in the round of 16.