BY: Oscar T. Gasennelwe
Luza “Master” Lechedzani has frankly made himself a household name in the boxing fraternity with his accomplishments from a boxer to coaching.
- Lechezhani Luza competed at Commonwealth games in 2003/05
- Luza retired early
- He is a celebrated national team coach
LECHEDZANI LUZA PARTICIPATED AT THE 2003/05 COMMONWEALTH GAMES
Lechedzani Luza has come from far with boxing, as he joined Olympic boxing at a very young age. He made history by competing in the Commonwealth Games in the 51 kg category at 23 years old and went further to make a stamp in Botswana’s boxing, till today.
The tournaments that Lechedzani Luza would not forget are the 2003 and 2005 Commonwealth Championships and the 2002 Commonwealth Games.
Lechezhani Luza won gold at the Commonwealth Championships and silver at the Commonwealth Games. With such an incredible record and at only 28, Luza shocked the boxing fraternity towards the end of 2006 when he announced his retirement. Many people could not believe it and hoped that he would reconsider his decision. But he stuck to his decision.
Lechezhani Luza has undoubtedly left a void that is going to take ages to fill. Here at home, he made the 51 kg division his personal property. He was rarely defeated. The only boxer who thought he would be the heir apparent to Luza’s throne was Eanya Dicheleketo. He defeated Luza twice, but Luza made fun of him in his last tournament when he defeated him by a technical knockout.
“There is always a time to make tough decisions in life, and quitting competitive boxing was one of them. Sometimes one needs to move on and face other challenges of life. Nevertheless, I would not be lost to boxing because I am already training some youngsters that I believe would emulate me in years to come. It is better to equip them with basic skills while they are still young,” he said.
Before Lechezhani Luza reached his accomplishments, in 2002, he was not favored as the nation believed the veteran, Eliot Mmila, who was then the dominant figure in the 51 kg division deserved to be in the boxing national team squad, not him. This erupted a war of words between the Botswana Amateur Boxing Association and ThebePhatswa Boxing Club, Mmila’s club. At 23 years of age at that time, Lechezhani Luza brought home a silver medal, the best ever boxing achievement at the games by Botswana. Lechezhani Luza said that people who had criticized his inclusion in the squad ended up giving him all the necessary support. This why three years later, he was able to clinch the Commonwealth Championships gold medal.
HE IS AN AWARD-WINNING COACH
Even after coaching, Master as affectionately known to his inner circle was still able to accomplish some accolades as in 2014, he was awarded “coach of the year” in the Debswana BoBA awards. He has also mentored a couple of aspiring coaches and boxers who look promising for the country. The likes of Grace Mmolai, Keamogetswe Kenosi, Oteng Oteng, and many more.
Lechezhani Luza is not with the national team full time, as he has a full-time job on the side. He has said that he is not yet willing to leave his job to be fully invested in boxing. Recently when the team traveled to Serbia, he was left behind, as ‘he was yet to be released by his employer.’ This left his assistant coach, Choga Ntoti to be in charge.
Lechezhani Luza was highly recognized nationally as he joined South Africa’s Natalie du Toit as Africa’s representative on the six-member body. He had chaired the Athletes’ Commission of the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) and was the athlete representative on its board from 2013 to 2017.
BNOC chief executive Tuelo Serufho said, “We are delighted that one of our own has been appointed into the GCF athlete advisory body, I believe that he will make a meaningful contribution as a former athlete and from his experience serving in the Athlete Commission.”
There was a boxer who looked to challenge Lechezhani Luza’s records but was not able to surpass the boxing great, Oteng Oteng (51kg), whom:
- At the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, he lost to Benson Gicharu Njangiru in the semi-final and won bronze.
- At the 2011 All-Africa Games, he won the rematch and the Flyweight title but at the 2011 World Amateur Boxing Championships, he lost his second bout to eventual winner Misha Aloyan.
- He also won the 2012 African Boxing Olympic Qualification Tournament.
- At the 2012 Summer Olympics, Oteng was defeated by Puerto Rican Jeyvier Cintrón in the first round with a score of 14–12.
- At the 2014 Commonwealth Games, he lost 0-3 to Reece McFadden in the quarterfinal of the men’s flyweight.
Was not able to reach his limits as he had to stop boxing and continue with his studies, unlike Lechezhani Luza who tackled both of them at the same time.
Lechezhani Luza is in possession of a three-star coaching certificate.