NAIROBI, Kenya, July 30 -Members of the Kenya Police boxing team popularly known as ‘Chafua Chafua’ are banking on Ben Gicharu to redeem the country’s boxing image as he begins the medal hunt in London on Monday.
Gicharu who began his path to international boxing at the humble Nairobi’s Mathare Depot training gym in 2004, before he joined the police force two years later is greatly respected among his peers who see him as a source of pride.
The lone male pugilist will begin his Olympics medal chase when he takes on Egyptian Hesham Abdelaal in their round of 32 bout in a three rounds contest where the winner on points will qualify for Friday’s round of 16.
Peter Bulinga, a former Olympian, now trainer at the gym considers the flyweight can rekindle memories of the late Robert Wangila at the Seoul edition in 1988 who won the top medal after knocking out Frenchman Laurent Boudouani in the final.
“As a team he’s in our prayers as he embarks on re-writing history given that he has a vision in the sport and will not stop until he achieves his dream.
“We strongly deem him as one to end the medal drought at the event since the late Wangila, he is among the best in our local league and hope he will make us proud,” said the former light-welterweight who represented the country at the 1996 Atlanta summer games.
He decried the shadowy judging process at the African qualifiers in Morocco in May which many in the squad concur cost them the chance to have more boxers at the London showpiece.
“We expect the judging process in London to be fairer, we are certain every point will be registered and we will follow his matches in anticipation of a win in every stage,” he added shortly after the team held prayers following the end of a training session.
Coach John Waweru has fond memories of the pugilist during the formative stages of his young career and believes he will emerge victorious at the end of his campaign.
“I have known him since he began coming to this gym way back where he has always shown a lot of resilience and believe he will prove his worth.
“He is not only hard working but has a high level of discipline which will replicate in the results, said Waweru who has also trained Elizabeth Andiego, the lone female boxer in London.
Peter Mungai who was Gicharu’s sparring partner during the training camp at Kasarani, before he departed for further training in Cardiff is of the view the fighter has what it takes to bring the elusive gold at the event.
“As his close friend I have been in constant touch with him, even though he is alone at the Olympics, he is our flag bearer and we wish him all the best.
“As his training partner, I noticed he was so upbeat at the camp where he kept telling me that once he gets his training right, the medal will come home,” said the team assistant captain.
Mungai added that victory for their captain will uplift the standards of the sport in the country which have been dwindling in the recent years.
“If he shines, the stakeholders will have to reflect and focus their undivided attention to the sport and boost the many up-coming boxers across the country through sound structures,” stressed the light fly weight.
Gicharu was among the boxers given the chance by world governing body, International Boxing Association (AIBA) to join a training camp in Cardiff, Wales which prepared him for the challenge pitting him among the best the boxing world has to offer in London.