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Boxing star dropped from Lesotho Commonwealth team

09-06-2010 11:11 BJT

MASERU, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) -- Lesotho boxing sensation and Commonwealth silver medalist Moses Kopo has been dropped out of the national squad set to compete in 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India, after it emerged he had been skipping training.

The 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games silver medalist has, according to Lesotho Amateur Boxing Association general secretary, Monethi Monethi, been left out of the team after he failed to attend training sessions for about a month.

Monethi said on Sunday that they had to replace the boxer with his teammate Kokole Paneng from the Lesotho Defence Force boxing club in the 69kg category.

Monethi said the association had information that the elusive boxer had enrolled for studies at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) for the 2010/11 academic year.

"The national coaches' reports left us with no choice but to make a decision that would serve the best interests of the country for the tournament," he said.

For his part, Kopo confirmed he had enrolled for a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting at NUL. But he however refuted allegations that he was dropped from the national squad because he skipped training.

The boxer believes he was only chopped from the team because the final squad was selected in his absence on July 19.

Kopo who holds the rank of Second Lieutenant in the LDF said at the time of trials, he was engaged with army duties, preparing for the King's Birthday celebrations in July.

"I was in Thaba-Tseka with the army when I received information about trials for the national team final selection and of course I could not make it.

"The boxing association failed to request my release from army duties to attend the trials and that was a hint to me that they no longer wanted me in the national team.

"I had being training with the assistance of Coach Torres and I personally financed his transport and food expenses," he said.

The boxer is the only Lesotho athlete who scooped a medal at the last Commonwealth Games.

There's no doubt he could have even done better in Australia four years ago, had he not ruptured his eardrum in one of the fights. The untimely injury ultimately forced him to forfeit his final bout against Britain's Simon Russan, to settle for a silver medal.

Meanwhile, Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) is adamant about retaining Moeketsi Liphalo as the national boxing team coach for the India trip.

LNOC public relations officer Moshoeshoe Mokake said in an interview Liphalo was an adept coach with a wide range of experience, adding he deserves to be given a break.

But recently, the boxing association complained in a press statement about an "uncooperative" Liphalo, adding he had been imposed on the national team in spite of his indifference to authority.

Editor:Jin Lin |Source: Xinhua

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