A young Botswana boxer has defied the odds in a male dominated sport, to become the country’s first ever female Olympian in the sport. Twenty-two year-old Sadie Kenosi recently became the first boxer in the world to book her spot in July’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Sadie Keamogetse Kenosi is basking in rare glory. The 22-year-old from Botswana has become the first ever woman boxer to represent her country at the Olympic Games.
“I was a bully at school, like a week would not pass by without (me) being involved in a fight. My first coach called me because he saw me in the (school) staffroom, being punished for beating up other kids. So he recruited me to join boxing but I did not agree at first,” Kenosi said.
Eventually, she did agree and quickly became an impressive boxer. Kenosi won the gold in the African Youth Games in 2014. But as a junior African champion in a male dominated sport, she faces challenges.
“In Botswana we have few women in boxing, it is hard to train. We have to spur (try harder) and if there are fewer (women) it is a challenge,” Kenosi said.
Kenosi’s national team coach, Lechedzani ‘Master’ Luza says her gains in the sport are inspiring other young women.
“It has been difficult, but now I believe she has made a case for boxing. All the youngsters out there have seen this, they have seen her achievements and the achievements of other women who are in boxing,” Luza said.
An advocate for getting more women in sports, Keenese Katisenge, says Kenosi is a trailblazer.
“It’s an achievement that helps us to make a case for women in sport. It is an achievement that makes it easy for us to break the barriers and start conversations or continue conversations about the importance of participation of women and girls in sport,” Katisenge said.
But the country’s National Olympic Committee Chief Executive Officer, Tuelo Serufho says cultural barriers are still a problem.
“In Botswana, the girl child, often times has to look after their younger siblings. They are also expected to prepare meals for the rest of the family. The second point, is that our sport facilities have not been safe for the girl child,” Serufho said.
Authorities hope Kenosi’s feat could pave way for more girls, to participate – especially in contact sports like boxing and rugby.