By John Tuerijama
MATHIAS Tulyoongeni Hamunyela has his sights firmly set on winning a gold medal in the light flyweight division at the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.
The 25-year-old recently delivered a sterling performance at the 2017 African Boxing Championships in Congo-Brazzaville, to book his place at the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) World Boxing Championships, scheduled for Hamburg, Germany from 25 August to 3 September.
Hamunyela defeated Cameroonian boxer Fotsala Simplice in his final bout at the African Boxing Championship, which took place from 17 to 25 June, and will be among the world’s best amateur boxers in Hamburg.
The German tournament is a stepping stone for up-and-coming amateurs to establish themselves against the more experienced names in the sport, ahead of the Japan Olympic Games.
In an exclusive interview with Confidente, Hamunyela, who hails from Endola in the Ohangwena region, said his dream is to bring home Olympic gold for his country, and to be among the best amateurs in the world.
He competed in the men’s light flyweight division at the 2016 Rio Olympics where he defeated Azerbaijani boxer Rufat Huseynov in the first round, but lost to Kazakhstan pugilist Birzhan Zhakypov in the second round.
“That experience has not drowned my desire to fight on, until I get what I said I will accomplish (winning the gold medal). It has really motivated me to work hard, and I believe that come the 2020 Olympic Games I will certainly win the gold medal,” Hamunyela said.
“Despite my loss to Zhakypov, I still want to fight him in the future, and prove to him that I am the best; I hope that day will come.
“My aim at the 2017 African Boxing Championships was to do my very best, and now my focus is on the AIBA World Boxing Championships, where I will demonstrate that I am the true and future champion,” said Hamunyela. He said that the Rio Olympics had been a platform on which he had gained much-needed experience.
This had made it so easy for him to do exceptionally well at the African Boxing Championships.“I want to make history in Germany, and I really want to do more for my country, and when I retire, which of course will be after I turn professional, I want my fellow countrymen to talk about me for years to come,” Hamunyela said.
The young boxer, who lives in Ombili on the outskirts of Windhoek, has no family support system, as both his parents have passed on. He has, therefore, used his boxing career to positively transform his life.
Hamunyela who completed Grade 9, at the Onanghulo Combined School in the Ohangwena region, said that if he does well in Germany, he hopes to enrol in an AIBA scholarship programme.
He hopes to follow the root taken by Zambian boxer Ben Muziyo, the All-Africa Games bronze medallist, who secured a scholarship at the AIBA World Boxing Academy in Talgar, Kazakhstan, ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Hamunyela, whose passion for boxing was inspired by former International Boxing Organisation (IBO) super bantamweight champion and former World Boxing Organisation (WBO) light middleweight champion, Harry Simon, said he wants to follow in his hero’s footsteps.
He said another renowned international boxer, who has inspired him, is Filipino pugilist-turned-politician, Manny Pacquiao.
Hamunyela called on his younger peers to take the sport seriously.
He also encouraged young people to take up a sport, in order to stay away from social evils like alcohol, drugs and unprotected sex.
Hamunyela’s trainer and national boxing coach, Mistake Gariseb, said that despite having confidence in his boxer, he is worried about the finances needed by Namibian boxers to cover travelling and accommodation expenses, when they compete on the regional and international stage.
He said that initially they wanted to take six local boxers to the African Boxing Championships, but due to financial woes, they trimmed the team down to Jonas Junias Jonas and Hamunyela, who both qualified for the AIBA World Boxing Championships.
He said that the two boxers did not attend a training camp prior to their departure to Congo, Brazzaville but had counted on the experiences at the 2016 Olympic Games, to pull them through. Gariseb said the two boxers have the potential to bring home medals. However, securing the prospect of not being able to secure the finances necessary for their trip, is giving the veteran trainer sleepless nights.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015