Okwiri grabs Olympic Games ticket
Kenya’s golden boy, welter-weight Rayton Okwiri of Kenya Prisons Boxing Club, has become the first Kenyan athlete to qualify for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
The 28-year-old achieved the feat when he defeated the hitherto unbeaten Russian boxer, Andrey Zamkovoy in the third and last phase of the AIBA pre-ranking rounds in Baku, Azerbaijan, on December 20.
Through AIBA Pro-boxing tournaments, two finalists in each of the event’s 10 weights will qualify for 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
Okwiri clinched the Olympics slot by virtue of reaching the welterweight final of the AIBA Pro-Boxing tournament where he faces Zamkovoy in a rematch with the Russian.
Through the AIBA Pro-Boxing tournament, 20 pugilists (all finalists in the 10 categories) will win slots to the 2016 Games.
Okwiri, who entered the professional fray as a lowly-ranked boxer, shocked the world when he knocked out the top ranked welter-weight, Marcos Nader from Austria with a devastating right hook in the second round of a scheduled six round contest in October. He lost his second fight to Onur Sipal from Turkey on points in November.
According to the Aiba Pro-Boxing web site, Zamkovoy, the 2012 London Olympic Games bronze medalist was undefeated before he met Okwiri. Okwiri was ranked third in the welter-weight berth when he beat Nader.
Okwiri failed to qualify for London Olympic games where bantamweight Benson Gicharu was Kenya’s sole male representative.
However, Okwiri was the only Kenyan boxer who got a medal (bronze) in the 2010 Maputo All Africa Games.
Gicharu is also taking part in the Aiba Pro-Boxing and his next fighting is scheduled for January 15 in Paris, France.
Previous bantam-weight bouts in the Aiba Pro-Boxing were held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Gicharu lost his first fight and won the second one is ranked fifth in the weight category.
The Kenya Defence Forces middle-weight, Nick Abaka, is the third boxer in the professional boxing circuit. He has not registered a single win and is ranked seventh.