MASERU – Five local boxers are in for a do-or-die in the qualifiers clash for the upcoming Olympic Games to be held in Dakar, Senegal from February 20-29.
The five, Tlholohelo Mokhesi, Moroke Mokhotho, Qhobosheane Mohlerepe, Mokhachane Moshoeshoe and Arena Pakela will have to put up good fight in Dakar to make it to this year’s Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
Local boxing expert Phello Sofe said unlike in the past where boxers who failed to qualify for big international competitions (including the Olympic Games) used to get wild-cards, this time around each boxer will have to qualify to get slot into the Tokyo games.
“Our boxers used to get wild-cards for big international tournaments like the Olympic Games. This is no longer going to be the case. Each boxer will have to qualify to make it to the games, as a new rule for boxers,” Sofe said in an interview with Public Eye on Tuesday this week.
“This was their last chance and now it means they will have to put up very good performances to get slots into the Tokyo Olympic Games.”
Lesotho’s Morotho received a spare Olympic berth (wild-card) which Sofe is talking about for him to participate at last Olympic Games held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016, after the late Inkululeko Suntele claimed his Olympic spot with a semi-final victory at the 2016 African Qualification Tournament in Yaounde, Cameroon.
All the five preparing for the Tokyo Olympics qualification last had competitive fights six months ago in the 2019 African Games in Rabat, Morocco.
And none of them brought home a medal.
Lesotho’s best performer in boxing was Pakela, who came on 5th place for the men’s middleweight -75kg.
“It is true all of them represented the country at the recent African Games in Rabat, Morocco. However, there hasn’t been any competitive fight for any of them since then.
“So you will realise that they were inactive for a long time and that is likely to affect their performance in Dakar,” Sofe further said.
Sofe, who is ex-Lesotho Boxing Association (LeBA) sports organizer, said for Lesotho boxers to qualify for the upcoming Olympic Games they would need to rely on luck.
“If they win, it will all be by luck because they have not had enough time to prepare for the qualifications,” Sofe added.
He said each of the five boxers would also need rely heavily on their experience in Dakar.
“Right now they are busy preparing for the qualifications although it is too late. They would need to get some international fights before. The problem is lack of funds on the part of LeBA,” Sofe said.
Mohlerepe, 26, fights in 60kg, Mokhotho, 29, in 56kg, Pakela, 22, in 75kg, Moshoeshoe, 28, 69kg and Mokhesi, 20, in 52kg.