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Rayton Okwiri and Serunjogi set to refresh historical rivalry between Kenya and Uganda

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Any boxing match between Kenyan and Ugandan boxers is always fiercely contested.

Both countries are big rivals in the ring from 1950s when they started battling it out in the Inter-Territorial Cup later renamed Millington Drake Trophy.

Their amateur boxing rivalry is replicated in professional boxing in which the Ugandans have so far outshone the Kenyans.

So, when Kenya’s Rayton “Boom Boom” Okwiri (7-0-1, 5KOs) meets Uganda’s John Serunjogi (8-1, 4KOs) in  a 10-round non-title middleweight  fight on October 13 in Dar es Salaam, it will be another regional supremacy battle.

Memories of Okwiri’s controversial points defeat at the hands of Uganda’s David Ssemuju during last year’s Olympic qualifiers in Dakar, Senegal, are still fresh to both Okwiri and Kenyan fans who felt their boxer was robbed of a clear-cut victory.

Okwiri will therefore go flat out to silence his opponent but he’s wary of the tough bout ahead against  Serunjogi whom he cannot take for granted.

“I’ve never seen him in action, in this case I can’t take him lightly because I know Ugandans are tough boxers,” says Okwiri who leaves the US on Friday, October 8, heading to Tanzania’s capital Dar es Salaam.

He has been in the US and Mexico since May when he left the country for intensive training, first landing in Mexico before moving to Boston.

“I’ve trained very well here in Boston, sparring in the US is like you’re in a real contest, it’s hard and intense. I’ve gained a lot training in the US and Mexico. I appeal to Kenyans in Dar es Salaam to turn up in large numbers to cheer me.”

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Okwiri has thanked betting company, SportPesa, for catering for his travel expenses from the US to Tanzania.

“I’m very grateful for their kind gesture, I thank CEO Karauri (Ronald) for his support,  hoping they’ll maintain it as I aim to rise higher.”

He has also been receiving online coaching from his Kenyan handler David Kiilu.

Okwiri’s fight in Dar es Salaam is another stern test in his quest to eventually fight for a world title in one of the three main professional boxing bodies in the world, WBC, WBA and IBF.

He’s aiming to become the first Kenyan male boxer to win a world title in one of the three bodies after his predecessors Philip Waruinge, Steve Muchoki and David “DK” Kamau have in the past unsuccessfully vied for WBC and WBA titles.

In contrast, the Ugandans have had tremendous success than their neighbours with Ayub Kalule winning WBA title, Cornelius Boza-Edwards WBC, John “The Beast” Mugabi WBC and Kassim Ouma IBF.

The Kenyan southpaw boxer is featuring in one of the undercards of the seven-bout show being promoted by Tanzania’s fast-rising promoter Donhalla Shemuni.

In the main fight, Congo’s Ardi Ndemo (4-0, 3KOs) will take on Zimbabwe’s Vincent Muziri (4-1, 2KOs) for Africa Boxing Union (ABU) South heavyweight title.

The other ABU South title fight will be in the super-lightweight division between   Tanzania’s Salimu Jengo (16-4, 10 KOs) and Malawi’s Hannock Phiri (3-0, 3KOs).

Uganda’s Shafik Kiwanuka, who has just fought once, has a tough fight against South Africa’s heavyweight  Chris Thompson (11-2, 7KOs)…….Nenez Media Services.