Amateurs keen to get to Rio
As the Cameroon qualifiers draw closer, this boxing trio is going all out to ensure it represents SA at the Olympics
Three amateurs – Ayabonga Sonjica, Akani Phuzi and Sibusiso Bandla – are confident of winning medals at the Olympic Games, set to take place in Rio de Janeiro from August 5 to 21. The trio will form the core of the sixmember team being prepared for the showdown by the SA National Boxing Organisation (Sanabo).
But their real test will come when they take part in the Olympic qualifiers in Yaoundé, Cameroon, from March 9 to 20, which will hopefully pave their way to Rio.
The team will represent the country in the Zone 4 Championships in Mozambique from next Sunday (January 24 to 30). Last year’s event was set to take place in Pretoria, but was cancelled following the outbreak of xenophobic attacks in the country.
The three fighters feel optimistic about doing the country proud in what they refer to as their “tough patriotic call”.
Sonjica, who fights in the bantamweight class, was part of the 2012 London Olympic team. He was eliminated in the preliminary rounds.
The 24-year-old pugilist, who hails from Duncan Village in the Eastern Cape, said he would put on a better show in Yaoundé.
“I have been training hard and am focused on winning a gold medal,” said Sonjica, adding that he knew the competition would be tough in Cameroon.
Phuzi (21), a light heavyweight slugger from Malamulele in Limpopo, said everything had been going well for him at the gym.
“I am in great shape and dreaming of one thing – winning a medal.
“Qualifying in Cameroon is a given because I am fit. I am determined to win all my fights and be in the Rio squad,” he said.
Bandla (22), a light flyweight boxer from East London in the Eastern Cape, said getting any medal in Rio would be an achievement.
He took home a bronze from the All-Africa Games in Congo-Brazzaville last year.
“My workouts have intensified, and this is evident during training. I will be on the Rio-bound plane – bring it on,” he said.
HARD HITTER Ayabonga Sonjica gets into his training regimen