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Boxers taste glory at international stage


Seabata Mahao

A contingent of Lesotho boxers showcased their prowess on the international stage at the recent Mandela African Boxing Tournament held in South Africa, garnering commendable achievements, including a coveted gold medal.

Among the 12 boxers who proudly represented Lesotho at the prestigious event, seven distinguished themselves by clinching medals, comprising one gold, one silver, and five bronze accolades. Their remarkable performances not only exemplify their dedication and skill but also underscore Lesotho’s burgeoning presence in the global boxing arena.

The tournament, held from April 15 to 21, served as a platform for South Africa and the International Boxing Association (IBA) to pay homage to the enduring legacy of the nation’s revered leader, the late Nelson Mandela.

A collaborative effort between the International Boxing Association (IBA), the African Boxing Confederation (AFBC), and the South African National Boxing Organization (SANABO), the Mandela African Boxing Tournament showcased the talents of fighters from 22 nations across 12 women’s and 12 men’s weight categories.

In a display of skill and determination, Retšelisitsoe Kolobe emerged triumphant in the -48kg weight division, clinching the gold medal in a thrilling final match. Kolobe’s victory not only earned him accolades but also a substantial prize of M96,474.10 in recognition of his outstanding performance.

Similarly, Mathealiara Seholoholo showcased remarkable resilience in the -54kg weight division, securing a silver medal despite narrowly missing out on the top spot in the final match. Seholoholo’s commendable efforts were rewarded with a prize of M57,884.46.

Additionally, Refiloe Thai, Monaheng Khebe, Seipati Maseeng, Khomamolefe Laeza, and Fusi Seholoholo distinguished themselves by each securing a bronze medal, accompanied by a prize of M28,942.23.

Lesotho’s collective achievements propelled the nation to an impressive fifth position among the 22 competing nations on the medal standings.

Furthermore, Team Lesotho’s exceptional performance earned them a coveted trophy for their overall ranking, with the cumulative prize money totalling a remarkable M300,000.

Seholoholo, who spoke on behalf of the winners upon their arrival in the country this week, said they were grateful for the opportunity to represent their country with pride, despite the challenges they encountered.

“We had many challenges as a team. From camping, facilities and everything we needed to prepare for the tournament, but we worked hard as we are now getting used to lack of funds in the sport,” he said.

He alleged that they had to use their own boxing gear during the tournament because they were not supplied with a uniform national team kit. He said wearing differing colours put them at a disadvantage as their opponents looked down upon them.

On his part, the Vice-President administration of the Lesotho Boxing Association (LeBA), ‘Mapule Mokoena, said they were proud of the team’s performance.

“The team made us proud even though we had multiple challenges, which are now usual to us. Our team lacked resources but we managed to participate in the tournament through the support of the Lesotho Sports and Recreation Committee (LSRC) which supported us with medical tests, medical kits, allowances, and logistics.

“We were the underdogs as our team had challenges including the match refereeing but we survived,” Mokoena said.

Team Lesotho was made up of male and female boxers led by coaches Diamond Lesenyeho, Tieho Ntulo, Velaphy Snyman, and Limpho Leqele.

The males’ team consisted of Retšelisitšoe Kolobe – 48kg, Mathealira Seholoholo – 54kg, Toka Litabe – 57kg, Rorisang Khoabane – 60kg, Monaheng Khebe – 63.5kg, and Refiloe Thai – 67kg.

The females’ team included Fusi Seholoholo – 48kg, Seipati Maseeng – 50kg, Tšooana Seleso – 52kg, Rapelang Maselela – 54kg, Khomamolefe Laeza – 57kg, and Puleng Rapoea – 60kg.   

The participating countries in the tournament were Angola, Bangladesh, Botswana, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, England, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Lesotho, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

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