Famed Belfast club Holy Trinity could have a boxer competing in the Olympics under the colours of Mozambique.
Bernaldo Marime, who lost to eventual champion Dean Walsh in last November’s Elite Championships at Dublin’s National Stadium, has jetted off to Africa to try and make Rio.
Marime, who was born Mozambique before moving to Tyrone aged 12, is now, boxing for Mozambique, who have employed a Cuban coach, aiming to qualify for Rio through the African qualifiers, which begin in Yaounde, Cameroon on Friday.
272 boxers from 39 countries have registered. Harry Hawkins, Marime’s coach at the Holy Trinity BC, reckons he’s right in there with a shout in Yaounde.
“He gave Dean Walsh a good fight in the Irish seniors. He’s tough, he’s matured a hell of a lot and he’s a very, very strong boy, Hawkins told The Irish News.
“He realises the opportunity he has – there’s not many people get that chance. Getting out of Ireland can sometimes be the hardest part of qualifying for the Olympics, and then even if you manage that, there’s nothing easy about the European qualifiers.”
“The African qualifiers won’t be easy, but it wouldn’t be as tough as the Europeans, so it’s a great opportunity.”
“We’ve worked hard with him, that bit of work with the High Performance is helping him because he’s getting some quality sparring.”
The top three light-welters in Yaounde qualify for Rio 2016.