Boxing Olympic Qualification – Dakar | Day 9 As It Happened

Bout-by-bout text updates, video highlights and reaction from the final day of African qualifiers, as Olympic Channel bring you all the action on the Road to Tokyo 2020

By Ron Lewis ·

Farewell from Dakar

So it is farewell to the action in Dakar Arena from all the team that helped put this blog together. In total, 33 boxers qualified for Tokyo, with Algeria qualifying seven and Morocco six, while Cameroon and Zambia qualified three each.

There is not much of a lull in the action as it starts again on Tuesday, with the Asia and Oceania qualifying event from the Prince Hamza Hall in Amman, Jordan. After that, the qualifying events take place in London, Buenos Aires and Paris. My colleague, Ben Dirs, will be in charge of the blog for Amman and, don't forget, every bout will be shown live on

This was our live blog for Saturday 29th February, the ninth and final day of the Africa Olympic qualifying tournament in Dakar, Senegal.

8.00 Blast from the past: Hocine Soltani

We usually start with a blast from the past, but today we will finish with it. Here is Hocine Soltani, the last African boxer to win Olympic gold. The Algerian won the lightweight gold at Atlanta in 1996, having won featherweight bronze four years before. Sadly, he died, aged 29, his body being found two years after he disappeared having gone to meet a man about exporting cars from France to Algeria.

Here is Soltani winning his gold medal, which is how most will want to remember him.

Soltani wins gold for Algeria at Atlanta 1996

After taking featherweight bronze at Barcelona 1992, Hocine Soltani claimed...


20 Feb - 15 Mar 2020

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Qualification Tournaments

Dakar, Amman, London, Buenos Aires, Paris

Live Blog - Dakar - Day 9 - Saturday 28th February 2020

Refresh for updates. All times are UTC/GMT, which is also the local time zone in Dakar.

It is the final day of action in Dakar and there are still four places up for grabs in Tokyo.

Today sees one session, with a total of ten bouts - six finals and box-offs in four divisions: women's flyweight, men's featherweight, welterweight and light-heavyweight.

Ghana will have high hopes of adding to the one boxer who qualified for the Olympics, with Samuel Takyi, Jessie Lartey and Shakul Samed all appearing in box-offs. Uganda, who have yet to qualify a boxer for Tokyo, also have three boxers still in the hunt for an Olympic spot today.

One of them, Catherine Nanziri, features in the first bout of the day, the women's flyweight box-off, where she faces Christine Ongare, of Kenya, who features in the short film below.

The first bout is at 4pm (UTC/GMT).

Pregnant at 12, now one win from an Olympic boxing spot at Tokyo 2020

Christine Ongare is blazing a trail for Kenya at the Olympic Boxing Qualifi...

More live blog entries will appear here throughout the day, and we'll get fully into the action from 16:00 UTC/GMT.

Bookmark this page and come back for more.


20 Feb - 15 Mar 2020

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Qualification Tournaments

Dakar, Amman, London, Buenos Aires, Paris

Medal time for the light-heavyweights

7.15: Mengue Ayissi: The coaches trusted in me

Albert Mengue Ayissi (Cameroon): "I am still a novice in boxing but the coaches trusted in me to represent them and as I told you before I knew what I was capable of that is why I am now the African Champion."

7.10: Zambia: Our target is 2024

Wisdom Mudenda, Zambia head coach: "We have the youngest team here because many of our Boxing Youth programme graduated to seniors within the last three years. These young boxers are good from what I have seen, they don’t show any fatigue no matter how many fights they fight. This is the right age to come up with medals. Our target now is Paris 2024, for this Olympics we are still preparing them."

7.05: Mulenga: It feel good

Everisto Mulenga (Zambia): "It feels good to be the African champion, I never expected to be Africa champion so young."

Mohamed Assaghir

7.00: Assaghir: I haven't eaten for four days

Mohamed Assaghir (Morocco): "I was unable to eat for the last four days, thinking about this fight and if I could qualify. It’s been 2 months since I ate cake, I had to keep my form as I knew am coming for tough combats, you know Africans are explosive and tough. The first round I was studying my opponent and then in the second and third round I just showed what I have got and why I deserve to be here and go to Tokyo."

7.00 Takyi: I told you

Samuel Takyi (Ghana): "I think I told you I’m going to Tokyo. I have never come to Africa qualifiers before, my first. I tell my coach I will qualify for the Olympics and I told him I will qualify. My family and boxing mates will be very happy, I hope this will inspire them(training mates). We have very good boxers in Ghana and they too can make it like I have."

Shadiri Bwogi 

6.50: Bwogi: Mu father had to quit boxing for me

Shadiri Bwogi (Uganda): "This is for my father, my family and my girlfriend who encouraged me to continue at some point when I wanted to quit the sport. My father was a boxer, but he had to quit for me, that is when my mother was pregnant with me. When I was growing up I heard that he was a good boxer so I felt like why couldn’t I push his dream and so when I was 12 I started training. I know he was following this, 'my father wherever you are, you started it I am completing , I have achieved my dream of representing my country at the Olympics'."

6.50: Mardi: The door has been opened to African women

Khadija Mardi (Morocco): "My win here is a statement that the door has been opened for African women especially Moroccan women for them to know that the road to the Olympics is possible for them. It's a statement of confidence and hope to the future generation of women boxers. My objective of achieving gold medal here has been achieved, but I still have to train harder to be able to enter the medal bracket at the Olympics. I am on the right path having won the title as the athlete ambassador of Africa, I want to continue to inspire many."

6.45: Imane: No pressure

Khelif Imane (Algeria): "I had no pressure in today’s fight, it was easy as I knew I have already qualified. It’s my first time to compete at the African championships, and I didn’t just qualify for Tokyo the other day but I also become the African champion. I started boxing just four years ago. I was watching boxing at the Rio 201, and one of the coaches in my area said, “I think you can make a good boxer and become a champion like the people on TV...” I started boxing and training with men that’s why you see my style in the ring is like that."

6.45: Cheddar: I know what I need to do

Rabab Cheddar (Morocco): "I was fighting someone I have fought before and know her style very well, but I still had to dig deep for the win. I am very tired today. Competing here was good because I know what I need to do in training and if I can do everything well I will medal in Tokyo."

6.40: Ongare: The hard work starts now

Christine Ongare (Kenya):

"I’m so happy and thank God for all. The hard work begins now, because even there in Tokyo there is going to be tough fights and I want a medal so that I can be more recognized. Having two Kenyans qualified gives the rest of the boxers hopes as they were discouraged. They were relieved when Nick Okoth qualified but two is even better."

6.35 And that's it

That proves to be the final bout of the tournament, as the light-heavyweight final is a walkover. Mohammed Houmri, of Algeria, has decided not to contest the final, so the gold medal will go to Abdelrahman Abdelgawwad. We hope to be getting a bit more feedback and reaction from Dakar Arena, but they have been having wifi problems there this afternoon.

6.30: Assaghir becomes final qualifier

There was almost no defence, but plenty of attacking as light-heavyweight Shakul Samed, of Ghana, and Mohamed Assaghir, of Morocco, went head-to-head in a battle for a spot in Tokyo. Assaghir was the main aggressor and Samed was made to try and live with him. It worked well for Samed in the first round but Assaghir came back to dominate the second round.

Samed looked like he cold hardly get off his stool for the third round and he was soon on the floor twice, not from punches, but from exhaustion. Somehow he summoned up the sffort to attack Assaghir in the final minute, but was made to take a string of punches, before landing a huge right hook that rocked Assaghir in the final seconds. Assaghir got the verdict, via a unanimous decision and Samed crumbled to the floor in disappointment.

Morocco now has six boxers qualified for Tokyo.

6.15: Mengue Ayissi outmuscles Zimba

Albert Mengue Ayissi boxed on the front foot for the first two rounds and then went walkabout for the final three minutes to claim a split points decision over Stephen Zimba, of Zambia, in the welterweight final. The Cameroonian took the action to the teenaged Zambian and was rewarded by the judges for his aggressive approach, even though there was little in it. Mengue Ayissi tired in the last round as Zimba came on, but the Cameroonian had enough points in the bag to claim victory.

6.00: Bwogi comes on strong

While the featherweight box-off was a tear-up, the welterweight one proved to be a more cagey affair, as Jessie Lartey, of Ghana, and Shadiri Bwogi, of Uganda, both southpaws, prodded and poked for supremacy. After Lartey took the edge in the first round, Bwogi swept the board in the second. And it was the Ugandan who looked the stronger in the final round, as Lartey flagged. Bwogi got the nod from the judges, via a unanimous decision, to become the first Ugandan to book his place in Tokyo.

Wilfred Seyi Ntsengue: "I want to be spectacular"

Cameroon's Wilfred Seyi Ntsengue qualified in style for Tokyo 2020. He has ...

5.40: Mulenga dazzles

Everisto Mulenga was only eight years old when Nick Okoth last boxed at the Olympics and the 20-year-old Zambian was just a bit too quick and energetic for Kenyan, who turns 37 in a few weeks, in the featherweight final. Okoth did his best to time the attack of Mulenga, but he was a wildly moving target, buzzing in and out of range, switching between southpaw and orthodox. Okoth did catch up with Mulenga in the final round, landing two left hooks together and then a big left hand that knocked out the Zambian's mouthguard. The decision was unanimous, though, Mulenga winning 30-27 on two cards and 29-28 on three. Mulenga does have a bad habit of attacking with his hands low, but he is improving all the time.

A delighted Samuel Takyi

5.25: Takyi is Tokyo-bound

With an Olympic place at stake, the featherweight box-off turned into barn-burner and, after Samuel Takyi, of Ghana, swept the first round, and Isaac Masembe, of Uganda, won the second on every card, it came down to a three-minute shoot-out. Takyi looked the quicker, Masembe look the stronger. It was close-quarter stuff, Masembe, the southpaw, landing well to the body, but Takyi landed two good rights in the final seconds, as the Ghanaian finished on the front foot.

The decision was unanimous... to Takyi. He let out a roar of delight as his hand was raised, Masembe sunk his face into his hands. A memorable bout, worthy of the reward.

5.05: Mardi dominates

One boxer who many believe could be in the shake-up for medals in Tokyo is Khadija Mardi, the Morocco middleweight, who is ranked No 3 in the world courtesy of the bronze medal she won at the World Championships. Mardi repeated her won from last year's Africa Games over Rady Gramane, of Mozambique, whom she towered over. Size is only one of Mardi's assets, she has a good jab, balance and power in her right hand. She picked off Gramane at her own pace. Gramane will be pleased to face someone else in Tokyo, having lost four in a row to Mardi.

4.50: Khelif in control

Imane Khelif underlined her superiority in the lightweight division, as the Algerian picked off the aggressive Mariem Zayani, of Tunisia, in the final. Zayani never stopped coming forward, but struggled to put a dent in Khelif, who won every round on all five judges' scorecards.

Good crowd for the final day at Dakar Arena

4.35: Cheddar take gold

The flyweight final was a clash between the two top nations in Dakar, Algeria and Morocco, and it proved a rough affair. Early on it was Rabab Cheddar, the underdog from Morocco, who got the best of it with the judges in the first two rounds, only for Roumaysa Boualam, the No 1 seed from Algeria, to come out charging in the third, determined to do something about it. And while she had plenty of success, it was not enough, as Cheddar took the decision unanimously, 29-28 on every card.

Christine Ongare after qualifying for Tokyo

4.15: Ongare qualifies

There have been few more heart-wrenching stories in Dakar than that of Christine Ongare, a girl from the bad parts of Nairobi who was pregnant at 12 and was hoping that a place in Tokyo would change her life. The Kenyan worked desperately hard but got her reward as she pounded out a unanimous points decision over Catherine Nanziri, of Uganda, in the women's flyweight box-off.

Ongare gives height to nearly every opponent and it was the same here as Nanziri tried to keep her at bay, but Ongare got through with two hard overhand rights and kept the Ugandan under pressure. Ongare has to keep moving to avoid getting caught on the way in, but she is putting a lot of effort in and rightly is given the round on all the judges' scorecards.

The start of the round saw Ongare back on the front foot and Nanziri under instant pressure as she tried to find room to box. But Ongare's punch output is unrelenting, even when her headguard seemed to slip, slightly blocking her view and she finished the round with another right.

Ongare struggled to keep up the same output in the final round, and while three judges have Nanziri the final round, it was too little too late. As Ongare's hand was raised, she dipped at the knees and pointed to the skies. She is now off to the Olympic Games.

Live Shows Later

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.

Timings of the live shows will appear here once confirmed.

Olympic Channel Live Show Promo Image - Dakar Boxing Qualifier - Rahul Pathak and Nicola Adams

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 earlier in the week to give you a taste of what's to come.

Day 9 Schedule - Saturday 29 February 2020 finals

1) Women's Fly (48-51kg) box-off - winner qualifies for Tokyo 2020

Catherine NANZIRI (Uganda) v Christine ONGARE (Kenya)

2) Women's Fly (48-51kg) final - both boxers have qualified for Tokyo 2020

Roumaysa BOUALAM (Algeria) v Rabab CHEDDAR (Morocco)

3) Women's Light (57-60kg) final - both boxers have qualified for Tokyo 2020

Imane KHELIF (Algeria) v Mariem HOMRANI EP ZAYANI (Tunisia)

4) Women's Middle (69-75kg) final - both boxers have qualified for Tokyo 2020

Khadija MARDI (Morocco) v Rady GRAMANE (Mozambique)

5) Men's Feather (52-57kg) box-off - winner qualifies for Tokyo 2020

Samuel TAKYI (Ghana) v Isaac MASEMBE (Uganda)

6) Men's Feather (52-57kg) final - both boxers have qualified for Tokyo 2020

Everisto MULENGA (Zambia) v Nicholas OKOTH (Kenya)

7) Men's Welter (63-69kg) box-off - winner qualifies for Tokyo 2020

Jessie LARTEY (Ghana) v Shadiri BWOGI (Uganda)

8) Men's Welter (63-69kg) final - both boxers have qualified for Tokyo 2020

Stephen Zimba (Zambia) v Albert MENGUE AYISSI (Cameroon)

9) Men's Light Heavy (75-81kg) box-off - winner qualifies for Tokyo 2020

Shakul SAMED (Ghana) v Mohamed ASSAGHIR (Morocco)

10) Men's Light Heavy (75-81kg) final - both boxers have qualified for Tokyo 2020

Abdelrahman ORABI (Egypt) v Mohammed HOUMRI (Algeria)

Stay with Olympic Channel for all the action on the road to Tokyo 2020.