Suntele memorial set for today

Suntele memorial set for today

MASERU – The memorial service for fallen Lesotho Olympian, Inkululeko Suntele, will be held on Thursday at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena before the boxer is laid to rest on Saturday at his home in Sea Point.
Suntele died two weeks ago at the age of 23 after he was stabbed while out in town with friends.

The timing and violent nature of Suntele’s death has rocked the Lesotho Boxing Association (LEBA) and the sport continues to mourn the promising fighter who competed at last year’s Rio Olympic Games in Brazil.
Speaking on Tuesday, LEBA events promoter Pheello Sofe said the association is still struggling to come to terms with “the nightmare they find themselves in”.

Sofe added that it is difficult to believe the stories being mentioned as the cause of Suntele’s death because he was shy and soft-spoken.
Sofe said Lesotho boxing has lost one of its soldiers.
“Matsipane was very shy,” he said.
“It is hard to believe all these things being said about him. We are shocked. He was cool and he didn’t talk too much, we are still surprised. We will remember him.”

Sofe said LEBA had big hopes for Suntele, who was nicknamed Matsipane; plans which extended past the boxer’s retirement.
“This is a huge loss, not only to (LEBA) but to the country,” he said.
“Death has robbed us; we have lost a great boxer. Suntele won most of his fights, he was not someone to lose easily. We had hoped that after he retires he will join us and train the young kids into great boxers but here we are.”
“He was still young,” Sofe added.
“We were still expecting more medals from him and we were confident we would get them. Normally the retirement age in boxing is 35. Do you see how young he was?”

Suntele started representing Lesotho in 2008 at the tender of 14 when he won gold at a regional junior boxing championship in Botswana. He then made his bow at a major international event in 2014 when he was part of Lesotho’s team at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
After continuing his steady rise on the regional circuit, Suntele won silver last March at the AIBA African Olympic Qualification Event in Cameroon which secured his Olympics debut later in the year.

Despite a first round loss to Tunisia’s Bilel Mhamdi in the 52 kilograms flyweight tournament, Suntele did enough to show he had a bright future and he was chosen as Team Lesotho’s flag bearer at the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games.
Suntele’s promising progress had made him one of Lesotho’s main medal hopes for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Australia.
He died while under an Olympic Solidarity scholarship to help his preparations for those Gold Coast Games next March.

Meanwhile, LEBA said it will continue with its monthly tournament schedule. On Saturday the association will hold a boxing competition in Roma which will double as preparation for a tournament in Bethlehem, South Africa, on November 25.
The last tournament for this year will be held in Butha-Buthe on December 9.

Luciah Phahla

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