JUST like any other boy growing up in Ha Leqele on the outskirts of Maseru, Moroke Mokhotho’s dream was to become a professional footballer.
March 4, 2022
4 min read
How Moroke Mokhotho gave up a football dream to become boxing superstar
Lesotho star boxer, Moroke Mokhotho
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However, his dream was hijacked by a group of friends, who pushed him to switch to boxing and as they say, the rest is history.
The 31-year-old Olympian, who recently launched a sports academy - Rocket Sports Academy (RoSA), has been Lesotho’s boxing golden boy since he came to prominence in 2011.
“To be honest, I was initially never interested in boxing, but I ended up joining the sport because of peer pressure,” Mokhotho says.
“What happened is, one day when I was going for training at the SOS ground, some friends of mine hijacked me and started criticising football. They were boxers and in the end, I gave in and joined them for training. That’s how my boxing career began, and I have never looked back since then.
“I can tell you that even my parents wanted me to play football, hence, I didn’t tell them about the switch after quitting football to focus on boxing because I knew they would be disappointed. Every day, I would leave the house holding a kit full of my football training gear but instead, I would go for boxing training. That continued for two full years and my parents were still not aware that I had become a boxer.”
Mokhotho says his big secret ironically came out when he received a call up for the national boxing team.
“The secret finally came out and it was very funny. It was a big shock to my parents when I received a call-up for the national team to represent the country in an international competition. They were not expecting that at all,” he recalls.
“I started playing boxing in 2008 during the Christmas break and I still vividly remember that I debuted at the national championships in March 2009.
“It used to be the biggest boxing tournament in the country, and I won my first two fights to reach the semi-finals. Unfortunately, I lost in the semis, but won my first ever medal as a boxer.
“My first international tournament was the Zone 4 Championship in Botswana and just like in my first national tournament, I won two fights going through to the semi-finals, where I lost and ended up with a bronze medal.”
The boxer, who was late last year elected as the Chairperson of the National Olympic Committee (LNOC) Athletes Commission is yet to hang up his gloves and his target is to compete at the next Commonwealth games.
“I have not retired yet and still training as hard as ever. I think I will only call it a day after the next Commonwealth games. I competed at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and it was an amazing experience really. It was too rough and tough, but a very good experience that helped my growth as an athlete,” the boxer says.
“It was a complete honour that will remain priceless to represent my country at such a big stage because it has always been my dream to compete at that level and it came true.
“I represented my country at the Olympic Games and two editions of the Commonwealth Games, where on both occasions I was knocked out in the quarterfinals,” he says.
As the clock slowly ticks towards the end of his career, Mokhotho is already preparing for life after boxing, having recently launched his sports academy, which he is hopeful will help bring the community of Ha Thetsane together.
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“The Rocket Sport Academy (RoSA) is a community-based organisation that has been established to bring people together living in Ha Thetsane, Maseru, through physical activities,” he states.
“Our academy pilots its work with two sports codes being boxing and badminton. For the pioneering person, has technical skills to kick start their implementation, membership with concerned national federations in Lesotho Boxing Association (LeBA) and the Lesotho Badminton Association (LESBAD),” he says.
The boxer further shows that the academy will be used to help combat alarmingly high criminal activities in the neighbouring villages and promote social cohesion and an active nation among others.
It also aims to develop relations with all concerned stakeholders in the Thetsane area including the chiefs, schools, churches and the business sector.
“For life after boxing, the plan is to focus more on my life away from the sport and give the academy as much attention as I can. Of course, I’m tempted to moving into both the administration and coaching part of the sport, but I think I will decide when the time to retire arrives,” he concludes.
Mokhotho’s accolades include a gold he won at the Zone 4 African Boxing Championship tournament held in Mozambique in 2018, bronze at the same tournament in 2014 in South Africa as well as bronze at the 2015 All Africa Games held in Brazzaville, Congo.
He kickstarted his international career by winning a bronze medal at the 2011 All Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique.