20 Feb - 15 Mar 2020
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Qualification Tournaments
Dakar, Amman, London, Buenos Aires, Paris
Bout-by-bout updates, highlights and reaction from the African qualifiers, as Olympic Channel brings you all the action on the Road to Tokyo 2020
Welcome to our live blog for Wednesday 26th February. This is day 7 of Olympic boxing qualification for Tokyo 2020, and everyone who wins today will get a golden ticket to the Games.
Dakar is hosting the first of five qualifying events, with African Nations taking part from 20-29 February, and you can watch all the action LIVE on Olympic Channel right here.
20 Feb - 15 Mar 2020
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Qualification Tournaments
Dakar, Amman, London, Buenos Aires, Paris
That is the end of an engrossing day from Dakar Arena. A total of 26 boxers booked their places at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. There are still another seven places up for grabs in the box-offs.
It was an incredible day for Algeria as they qualified seven boxers, Morocco saw four qualify and Zambia three, which was every member of their team. There were two qualifiers from Cameroon, Mozambique and Tunisia, as well as one each from Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Mauritius, and Namibia.
Thursday is a rest day, but we are back on Friday and Saturday for the finals and box-offs.
Maxime Yegnong Njieyo (Cameroon): "I started boxing as a self defence to defend myself on the streets. As a man in Yaunde you have brothers and sisters you have to defend yourself and your siblings. So this was the start and then I discovered boxing. I work as a mechanic so I lift heavy engines and use part of this to become even stronger for my bouts and build my muscles. My nickname is Bibinga, which is a grand tree in Cameroon. That’s what I am."
Chouaib Bouloudinats (Algeria): "We have a long history of boxing but our performance here is proof that Algeria is the home of boxing in Africa like Russia, Cuba, Kazakhstan.
"I love that I am practicing the sport for real men, boxing is for real men and not for cowards. With boxing I have become a true man and a man of honour."
Mohammed Houmri (Algeria): "That was the fight for North African heavyweight fighters. I thank God for the win and now I am going to Tokyo. Mohamed was a hard fighter, he used a lot of irregular punches and some head butts and made me move a lot. But the thought of family and friends who are back home waiting for news of my qualification gave me the motivation to punch harder."
Albert Mengue Ayissi (Cameroon): "I am looking forward to win gold and show my country I didn’t come here to play and show what I am made of."
Mariem Zayani (Tunisia): "I was very relaxed and made it look easy, because I have had a good preparations and my mental state was on Tokyo. What I have got right here is more than boxing my mental strength has carried me through to Tokyo."
Abdelrahman Abdelgawwad (Egypt): "That was a real battle. But I wanted to win. Thank God for this."
Roumaysa Boualam (Algeria): "It’s a historic day for me to become the first Algerian women to qualify for the Olympics. A big day for Algeria and a win for women's boxing. I have been boxing for six years and now I qualify for Tokyo. I moved a lot in the ring because the style of this boxer is tricky so I had to use my intelligence to win this fight."
Rabab Cheddar (Morocco): "This has been my ultimate dream. Back at home I trained hard and during these days I converted all that sweat and hard training to punches. I started boxing just as leisure to stay fit but gradually I realised that this is sport that can take me to great heights."
Stephen Zimba (Zambia): "We promised Zambians that we are going to Tokyo. We came here the three of us and all three of us have qualified. People back home will be very proud of us for this achievement. Boxing is big back in Zambia, it’s second to football.
"Now it’s get the gold and then try for medal at the Olympics."
Everisto Mulenga (Zambia): "I didn’t know what Olympics was until I watched the Olympics in 2016 on TV. I watched boxing. And now I am going there. When I go back I want to have a party. I know many people and family will come to meet me at the airport when I go back."
Nick Okoth (Kenya): "My wife called me today and told me, 'go get the ticket'. I told her, 'don’t you understand how tough the fights here are?' She said, “you are tougher!” You know to go back where I have been 12 years later is something…I will never forget this day. None of the Kenyans who fought today have made it so I know what this means for them, the coaches and Kenyans."
Imane Khelif (Algeria): "I didn’t chose boxing, boxing choose me. I did other sports when I was young karate, judo, and a coach saw me and said why don’t you try boxing can be good. I am happy to be going to Tokyo its one of my favourite cities and I am happy to be going back. I can’t believe I am going to Tokyo yet, it will hit me later."
Fearsome Cameroon super-heavyweight Maxime Yegnong Njieyo, of Cameroon, made it through to Tokyo with a brilliant display against Ahmed Bourous, of Morocco, and then celebrated by punching himself in the head.
Yegnong Njieyo, 26, does not smile much, but he can certainly fight. He took the action right to Bourous, of Morocco, forcing a standing count in the first round and then dominating from the on, with a good jab and an impressive array of punches to secure a unanimous points decision.
There is no box-off at heavyweight or super-heavyweight, so Bourous will have to go to the world qualifier in Paris in May
Chouaib Bouloudinats concluded a wonderful day for Algeria as he booked a place at his third Olympic Games with a unanimous points decision over Keddy Agnes, of Seychelles, at super-heavyweight.
Bouloudinats, 33, did better in the first round and, while Agnes did much better in the second round, the judges sided with the Algerian. Instead of going all-out for a stoppage in the third, however, Agnes made little effort in the last round, suggesting that he thought he may have been ahead. It came as a shock to him then, when Bouloudinats's hand was raised, for a remarkable seventh qualifier for Algeria.
Both light-heavyweight semi-final turned into thrilling all-action dust-ups. Mohammed Houmri, of Algeria, dominated early on against Mohamed Assaaghir, only for the Moroccan to fire back in the second round, as it looked Houmri had run out of energy. The two then went for everything in the final round, with Houmri landing the better shots to secure a points win.
Abdelrahman Abdelgawwad, of Egypt, qualified for his second Olympic after a performance that could best be described as one of non-stop, naked aggression, to earn a split decision over Shakul Samed, of Ghana. Abdelgawwad is not the sort of guy to fail for lack of effort as he tore into Samed, who did well for the main, but was forced to stand and battle for everything. Abdelgawwad just about bludgeoned throught the better shots.
After disappointment earlier for Cameroon, Albert Mengue Ayissi booked his place in Tokyo at welterweight with a unanimous points decision over Shadiri Bwogi, of Uganda. While his close friend Wilfred Seyi disappointed in the afternoon, Mengue Ayissi did not let his control of this bout slip, as he ran out a deserved winner.
How about Zambia? They turned up in Dakar with a team of three, aged 19, 19 and 20. And all three have qualified for the Olympic Games. After Patrick Chinyemba and Everisto Mulenga (the old man at 20) booked their spots at flyweight and featherweight respectively, Stephen Zimba, aho stopped the No 1 seed Mervin Clair yesterday, claimed a points decision over Jessie Lartey, of Ghana.
It was a controlled performance, as the judges favoured his come-forward body attack in the first round, over Lartey's work of the backfoot. Lartey came forward more in the second round, which suited Zimba better and, after a scrappy third round, it was Zimba who won the decision.
While two young guns were going at it in Ring A, Nick Okoth, of Kenya, was qualifying for his second Olympics, 12 years after he boxed in Beijing, in Ring B. Okoth, who is just a few weeks short of his 37th birthday, used all his ringcraft to poach an early lead against Isaac Masembe, of Uganda, in their featherweight semi-final, and stayed out of trouble to secure a unanimous points decision.
The featherweight semi-final between Everisto Mulenga, of Zambia, and Samuel Takyi, of Ghana, always shaped up as one of the best bouts of the tournament between two exciting, young boxers, and it delivered in a close nip and tuck battle. Takyi edged the first round, scoring well with the long right, but Mulenga, 20, landed some lightning-fast southpaw left in the second to fire right back. In the final round, Takyi did well early, but the cleaner work late on came from the Zambian, as Mulenga took a 4-1 split decision with the judges.
And now an even quicker stoppage. After just 139 seconds, Mariem Zayani, of Tunisia, stops Naomie Yumba to book her place in Tokyo at lightweight. It took two standing counts to force the referee's intervention, as Yumba, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, seemed unable to cope with Zayani's power. She turned away after being caught by one punch and when she was hit with a big left hook, Yumba seemed to have no idea where she was.
It's another win for Algeria in Ring A at lightweight, as Imane Khelif used her movement well to pick up the first two rounds against Mariam Sidibe, of Cote D'Ivoire, before withstanding Sidibe's big effort in the last.
After Algeria get a fourth qualifier, so do Morocco, as Rabab Cheddar, the No 3 flyweight seed, wins a unanimous points decision against Christine Ongare, of Kenya. There was no great fluency to Cheddar'swork, but she used her height advantage well to keep Ongare off her. Ongare struggled to get in range and will now face a box-off with Catherine Nanziri, of Uganda.
Roumaysa Boualam became Algeria's fourth qualifier for Tokyo after her flyweight semi-final with Catherine Nanziri, of Uganda, was stopped barely a minute into the second round. Boualam was completely dominant, Nanziri taking a standing count in the first minute of the first round. Her only problem in that round came when she stopped to adjust her headguard and was caught by two punches.
A good start to the second round led to another standing count and a stoppage win for Boualam.
The evening session is about to start with the women's flyweight semi-finals. There are 12 bouts tonight, split over two rings with the winners booking a place in Tokyo.
Form the afternoon session, Morocco and Algeria both qualified three boxers, with Mozambique two and Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mauritius, Namibia, Tunisia and Zambia one each.
After they both qualified for Tokyo today, here is another chance to see our interview with Mohamed Flissi and Abdelhafid Benchabla
Youness Baalla (Morocco): "I don’t have the right words to describe really what I am feeling. I am going to Olympics! I trained so hard, you can’t imagine what I do for this."
Abdelhafid Benchabla (Algeria): "Four Olympics, Beijing, London, Rio and Tokyo...No more fifth place now I want a medal. Today you saw I looked a bit tired because I had such a short time after my first bout and today, but I knew what to do in the ring."
David Tshama (DR Congo): "I come from a family of boxers in Lubumbashi, so it was easy to know what I would do. Boxing and this ticket shows you it was worth it. The training, the sacrifice, all is for this."
Younes Nemouchi (Algeria): "Boxing is my life. I gave up so much to chase this dream. I could have been great in something else. I have a Master in Transport and Logistics, but boxing appealed to me more. I started boxing late in life when I was already deep into my teens. I liked the Cuban style of boxers, Julio Cesar La Cruz and that’s how I try to fight, Arty boxing. Because I believe boxing should be like art, with the punches and movements."
Richarno Colin (Mauritius): "These are tears of joy. I worked so hard for my third Olympics after Beijing and London. I am not a full time boxer, I train morning and evening and in between I work at the sports council as a handy man,, cleaning and doing other stuff. This is special. I wish I can go to Tokyo and get to the podium."
Jonas Jonas (Namibia): "I was really focused on qualifying for Tokyo. I have adapted my cocky style from my favourite boxers, who I grew up idolizing like Muhammad Ali among others. I have the ticket to Tokyo now the plan is to confirm my status as the best in Africa in the finals."
Mohamed Flissi (Algeria): "I know Tetteh very well he is a bit cocky in the ring but I know his style. We met before the London 2012 qualifiers and at the African Games so I knew how to use my experience against him. To be at the Olympics two times means something in terms of my capabilities and to be going back for a third time, it means I am going back for a medal."
Patrick Chinyemba (Zambia): "I am only 19 years and to qualify and get this far at my first African qualifier gives me so much job. This will motivate my younger brother, who has also picked up boxing like me. I am so happy for me and I know Zambians are happy with me."
Rady Gramane (Mozambique) : "I was very obese almost 100kg, in my family we are quite chubby and I also didn’t have very good eating habits. So I decided to go on a weight loss program. We would run nears boxing club and a coach saw us and he invited us to box. I refused. But then he got me when he told my friend(Helena) tell your friend if she wants to lose weight I can help her do it in three months.
"I am so excited to be going to Tokyo, I can’t wait to share the news with my family on 29th. They will only be able to know then as our coach took all our phone till after the finals."
Khadija Mardi (Morocco): "It’s good to be going back to the Olympics but this is special. This time I am going back as a mother, a wife and the training was harder and to qualify its even sweeter."
Helena Panguana (Mozambique): "This is unbelievable. The fight was tough and the girl really pushed me and stretched me as she was shorter. But I have been training for shorter opponents and it worked. I got into boxing as a joke. I was running with a friend who is also here boxing. She was obese and was running to lose weight, a boxing coach saw us and suggested to her to try boxing to help with her exercise. She insisted I accompany her to the box training and that’s how I started. And now I am here going to Tokyo.
Abdelhafid Benchabla qualified for his fourth successive Olympic Games, his first at heavyweight, as the 33-year-old Algerian turned back the effort of Youssef Ali Moussa, the 19-year-old Egyptian. Bechabla, who made the quarter-finals at light-heavyweight at his previous three Olympics, was a bit too ring-wise for Ali Moussa and had to dig deep in the final round to stay out of trouble.
The other heavyweight spot in Tokyo went to 20-year-old Youness Baalla, of Morocco, who kept it long and stayed on the move to earn a 4-1 splits points decision over Elly Ochola, of Kenya.
There was an upset in Ring B, when the impressive Wilfred Seyi Ntsengue was simply outworked in the last two rounds by David Tshama, of the Deomocratic Republic of Congo.
Tshama was outboxed in the first round, but went for it in the second, rushing Seyi Ntsengue and had success. In the final round the Cameroonian, who box in Rio four years ago, showed more urgency, but Tshama had success with some big left hooks to grab the points victory.
Seyi Ntsengue faces David SSemujju in a mouth-watering middleweight box-off.
Younes Nemouchi, produced a brilliant display of backfoot boxing to book his trip to Tokyo, despite the constant pressure of David Ssemujju in their middleweight semi-final. Ssemujju, the No 1 seed from Uganda, is a no-nonsense aggressive fighter, but Nemouchi did not stop moving for the first two rounds and then the Algerian dug in when Ssemujju came on stong in the final round.
After missing out on a place at Rio four years ago, Richarno Colin, of Mauritius qualified for his third Olympic Games at lightweight with a points win over Fiston Mulumba, of the Democratic Repubic of Congo, that was more conclusive than the 4-1 split decision showed. Having lost the No 1 welterweight see, Mervin Clair, yesterday, Mauritius's hopes were on Colin and he did not disappoint, as he outboxed Mulumba in their lightweight semi-final. Mulumba will now face Abdelhaq Nadir in a box-off.
Algeria has its first qualifier and it is the familiar figure of Mohamed Flissi, the flyweight, who booked his place at a third Olympics with a unanimous points decision over Tetteh Sulemanu, of Ghana. Flissi has not really had to extend himself throughout this tournament and the No 2 seed was smart enough to nullify Sulemanu's best work while keeping busy himself. Sulemanu will now face Juliano Maquina, of Mozambique, in a box-off.
Jonas Jonas, of Namibia, is heading back to the Olympics after an impressive display saw him win a points decision against Abdelhaq Nadir, the No 1 seed from Morocco, at lightweight.
The 26-year-old lost his opening bout at light-welterweight in Rio in 2016 and then won gold at the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast in 2018. He held the upper hand throughout, using his range better and landing good shots as Nadir pushed forward.
He also landed the best shot of the bout, a crunching right uppercut at the end of the second round, which seemed to damage Nadir's nose. It was a split decision, but Jonas not only booked his place in Tokyo, but reversed his defeat against Nadir at last year's African Games.
Patrick Chinyemba, of Zambia, could be a man to watch in Tokyo, as he claimed a split points decision over Juliano Maquina, of Mozambique, at flyweight and celebrated with a trademark foot-stomping salute.
Chinyemba over-committed in the first round, but he held back more in the second to give a masterclass of switch-hitting, drawing Maquina in and punishing him. The third round followed a similar pattern, with the fast hands of Chinyemba having more success, especially with the right hand, but throwing burring combinations too.
Four judges made it 29-28 to Chinyemba, while one, with the sort of scorecard that should send alarm bells ringing, somehow gave every round to Maquina.
However, Maquina will get another chance to qualify for Tokyo in the box-offs.
After back-to-back wins in Ring A for Morocco, there are back-to-back wins in Ring B for Mozambique as Rady Gramane, the No 2 seed, claims a unanimous points decision over Ornella Sathoud, of Ghana. It was another controlled performance and, whatever Sathoud tried, she could not really put a dent in Gramane. It means that both the women's welterweight and middleweight finals will by Morocco v Mozambique affairs, between the No 1 and No 2 seeds.
Khouloud Moulahi (Tunisia): "It’s been 15 years of hard work, lots of problems to get to Tokyo, but I am finally going. I am going to Tokyo! I love it!
It is now two qualifiers from Morocco as Khadija Mardi, one of the biggest favourites in Dakar, claims victory in her middleweight semi-final against Ichrak Chaib, of Algeria. Mardi has a big height advantage and uses it well, boxing from distance behind a dominating jab and picking off Chaib when she tries to mix it. The Moroccan hammers home several good right hands too, as she wins a clear unanimous points decision.
Sadie Kenosi (Botswana): "When I got into the ring today I was confident that I would book my ticket to Tokyo from this fight. That’s all that was going on in my head - Olympics. This win means a lot for women boxing, we are not many in Gaborone. And for me to come here and become the first qualifier in boxing from Botswana is huge!"
Up to welterweight and Oumaya Bel Ahbib gets it right on her big day, as the No 1 seed from Morocco is completely dominant against Elizabeth Akinyi, catching the Kenyan on the way in with one-two combinations. Bel Ahbib produces a spectacular finish, too, with Akinyi taking two standing counts in the final 30 seconds, both times after Bel Ahbib landed with big rights.
Over in Ring B it is a closer battle, but Helena Panguana, of Mozambique, takes a unanimous points decision over Emily Nakalema, of Uganda. Both boxers took trips to the canvas, although that seemed as much due to them dangling up with each other than clean punches, but Panguana did enough to book her place at the Olympics.
It is all more straightforward for Khouloud Moulahi, of Tunisia, as she dominates the featherweight semi-final against Marcelat Matshu Sakobi, of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Sakobi didn't fail for lack of effort, but the neat-boxing Tunisian had the better of it.
We're underway. Two rings today and the way it is set up, semi-finals in the same weights with be happening simultaneously. Up first it is the women's featherweight division and Widad Bertal, of Morocco, claims the first round, but the Sadie Kenosi, the No 1 seed from Botswana, takes charge in the second round, completely dominating. "That right hand is like a missile," says Alex Arthur in commentary. Kenosi takes a unanimous decision and is the first boxer anywhere in the world to book their place at the Olympics.
Today's blast from the past features the great Ghanaian Ike Quartey, who held the WBA welterweight title in the 1990s and is remembered for his legendary battles against Oscar De La Hoya and Fernando Vargas. Here he is boxing at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.
1.45: The countdown is on
Here is a short film with Emily Nakalema, of Uganda, who boxes in the second bout in Ring B this afternoon
Refresh for updates. All times are UTC/GMT, which is also the local time zone in Dakar.
Boxing begins at 14:00 UTC/GMT, which is also 2pm in Dakar.
First up in Ring B is a women's featherweight (54-57kg) bout featuring Sakobi Marcelat from D.R. Congo.
She spoke to Olympic Channel exclusively in Dakar before her crunch semi-final.
By the end of today, 26 boxers will have booked their places for Tokyo. There are 26 semi-finals, with the winner of each assured of their Olympic place this summer.
For the losers today, there will be one more chance in Dakar, providing you are in the women's flyweight division or the six lighter men's divisions. In those weight categories, there will be a box-off between the losing semi-finalists for one more place in Tokyo. For the others, their last chance will be to try and qualify through the final world qualifier in May in Paris.
So far Algeria and Morocco have been the most successful nations in Dakar, with eight boxers qualified for the semi-finals each, while Uganda and Ghana have five, and the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya four.
One of the most impressive boxers in Dakar has been 22-year-old middleweight Wilfred Seyi, of Cameroon, who boxed in Rio four years ago as a teenager and as since turned professional after relocating to Montreal, where he is unbeaten in eight bouts.
In the other side of the middleweight draw, Uganda’s David SSemujju looks in fine form, as do the three remaining young Zambian boxers, Patrick Chinyemba, Everisto Mulenga and Stephen Zimba, a 19-year-old who uncorked a huge right hand to stop Mervin Clair, the No 1 welterweight seed, in the quarter-finals in Tuesday.
Another boxer who has looked good in Kenyan featherweight Nick Okoth, a soldier, who is just a few days short of his 37th birthday, who is aiming to returning to the Olympics 12 years after last appearance in Beijing.
Algerian heavyweight Abdelhafid Benchabla is aiming for his fourth Olympics, having been beaten each previous time in the quarter-finals, one win away from a guaranteed medal.
Among the women's divisions, the Moroccan pair of Khadija Mardi and Oumaya Bel Ahbib have impressed, as has Kenyan flyweight Christine Ongare.
Khadija Mardi is one of the 52 boxers who will take to the ring on Wednesday, with 26 spots at Tokyo 2020 up for grabs.
The Moroccan spoke to us exclusively in Dakar before the competition to share her story, and her aims beyond competing at the Olympics.
Boxers from Ghana have been doing well overall, with several lining up in the semi-finals today.
Samuel Takyi is one of those to win quarter-final bouts on Tuesday. Here's how.
Did you miss anything on Tuesday?
It was an action packed day of quarter-final action in Dakar. We were live blogging throughout, and you can read how it all happened on day 6 here.
Highlights of the sessions are also available right here on the Olympic Channel.
Here's the full late session from Ring A last night.
On Day 7 in Dakar we've got two sessions of boxing action, which you can watch live on OlympicChannel.com and follow in text form right here on the blog.
The early session starts at 14:00, the later session at 18:00 UTC/GMT.
Both sessions feature bouts on two rings (A and B) and in the Senegalese capital.
You can see the full schedule of bouts for day 7 right here.
20 Feb - 15 Mar 2020
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Qualification Tournaments
Dakar, Amman, London, Buenos Aires, Paris
As well as watching all the action from Dakar on Olympic Channel, we've also got three special interactive live shows later today.
Olympic Channel host Rahul Pathak and two-time gold medal winning boxer Nicola Adams will be reviewing the best bits of the competition and answering your questions.
You can watch the Live Shows here, wherever you are in the world and without subscription, at the following times (all times are UTC/GMT, which is the same as Dakar local time).
13:50-14:00 - Pre-Show - Before session 1 of boxing begins at 14:00 UTC/GMT.
17:50-18:00 - Mid-Show - Between sessions and before boxing resumes at 18:00 UTC/GMT.
19:30-19:40 - Post-Show - Immediately after competition for day 7 is scheduled to end at 19:30 UTC/GMT (timings may change).
You can get involved in the show by sending your comments and questions to our team via Olympic Channel social media accounts.
If you've not watched our Live Show previously, here's an episode from Tuesday 25th February to give you a taste of what's to come.
There are 33 places at the Tokyo Olympics available in Dakar – 22 for men and 11 for women.
Any boxer who reaches the final is guaranteed an Olympic place.
In addition, in six male weight categories (flyweight to light-heavyweight) as well as one female division (flyweight) there will be a third qualification spot available. This will be decided by a box-off between the two losing semi-finalists.
There will be one more chance to qualify for Tokyo 2020 at the final world qualifying event in Paris in May.
Stay with Olympic Channel for all the action on the road to Tokyo 2020.