Botswana mourns the death of talented boxer Tefo Kesotshepa Maitewa at 22

Maitewa, who competed at the African Olympic qualifiers in Dakar in February, died on Friday.

By Evelyn Watta ·

The African boxing community has been mourning the death of Botswana’s Tefo Kesotshepa Maitewa.

Bantamweight southpaw (left handed) boxer Maitewa, died on Friday (October 16), near his village in Molepolole, 60km from the capital Gaborone. He had recently been diagnosed with a brain tumor.

“To Botswana boxing, it’s a great loss.” Taolo Tlouetsile, the Botswana Boxing Association public relations officer told the Olympic channel.

“He was so special to the team and was a clearly amongst Africa’s young upcoming boxers that we were developing."- Taolo Tlouetsile, Botswana Boxing.

Tefo Kesotshepa Maitewa (in red) in a past bout in Botswana. (Photo: Botswana Boxing)

In recent months, Maitewa had suffered a series of severe headaches and was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

“We were told that one day he collapsed at home and they rushed him to hospital," said Tlouetsile, Botswana Boxing Association public relations officer.

In early October, he was released from the Intensive Care Unit and transferred to a hospital in his hometown of Molepolole.

“He had been in a coma but recently was out of ICU as his condition was termed as stable,” added Tlouetsile.

“There were even plans to discharge him from the hospital, but the family had requested for some time to prepare the home for his stay. We were shocked to receive news of his death on Friday.”

Maitewa on the Road to Tokyo

The 22-year-old, who began his career in high school, last competed in February, at the African qualifiers for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Senegal.

Maitewa reached the quarter-finals at the Dakar Arena. He won his preliminary bout against Guinea Bissau’s Junior Felix Mendes.

“There was no pressure I just had to relax and do my thing, play easy duck, and throw perfect punches," he told the Olympic Channel in Dakar soon after his opening bout.

"I was in France, Cuba, and Hungary and had really good training. We were taught a lot of things that most African boxers are not familiar with."

"We know that it has been a long time since we were at the Olympics (2012), and this team that is made up of many juniors are best placed to make sure Botswana goes back to the Olympics."

Maitewa missed out on an Olympic qualifying spot in Dakar after losing to Uganda’s Isaac Masembe in the quarter-finals, but was among four boxers who Botswana hoped could win one of the final golden tickets for the Tokyo Olympics at the World qualifiers, re-scheduled for 2021.

"He had a power punch and a good upper right cut"

Maitewa, the best male at the 2019 Botswana Boxing Championships, made his debut for his country in 2016.

The Tswana took gold at the Africa Union Sports Council region five event in Angola in 2016 and traveled to the 2018 Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast as a sparring partner.

Reigning African Games champion Rajab Otukile Mohammed, Maitewa's long-time teammate, expressed his sadness.

“I first met him in 2015 when he was in the Junior team and I had moved up to the senior. He was a hard worker, a very good boxer, and a good training partner as he was a southpaw which is rare and made him a good opponent,” Mohammed told the Olympic Channel.

“He had a power punch and a good upper right cut, if you are a lazy boxer, he could easily knock you down.” - Rajab Otukile Mohammed.

Rajab Mohammed