Papua New Guinea’s lone boxer at the Olympic Games, John Ume fought in the Round of 32 in the lightweight (63kg) division on Sunday night.
Ume lost unanimously against reigning Commonwealth Games champion and gold medallist, Australian, Harry Garside. The three rounds were each scored nine against 10 from all five judges with the final score being Ume 27 and Garside 30 points, across the board.
The Australian athlete entourage congratulated Ume on a great performance and highlighted that more lead up competitions would have led to a very different outcome.
Lack of time in the ring with quality boxers at an international level and sparring partners meant that Ume was under prepared for the physicality of the fight.
Lead up training was all carried out in PNG due to the pandemic limiting overseas opportunities. Lockdowns in Port Moresby and the closure of the Taurama Aquatic and Indoor Centre meant a change up in training venues including the South Side Gym, Murray Barracks Gym, and Ela Beach and at the makeshift gym at Sir John Guise Indoor Stadium with High Performance Sport PNG.
Regardless of the situation in Port Moresby, Ume and his sparring partners along with his coach continued to prepare as best they could. He participated in a number of local bouts but missed the high quality experience and fight craft that he would have received if he had been based overseas.
PNG has a long and proud history of sending boxers to the Olympics and Ume is the country’s 14th representative in the sport.
Ume competed at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and won gold at the 2019 Pacific Games. He trains with the Defence Boxing Club with Coach Mark Keto supported by his club members and former Commonwealth Games coach, Peter Morrison in Sydney.
Ume remained positive despite going down to Garside “I felt good throughout the fight; I thought I did enough in the first round but it wasn’t to be. I have no excuses about my preparation that is how it was with the impact of CPVID-19”.
Coach Keto was proud of Ume’s efforts “I thought John’s defence was really strong. Some areas we need improvement on and that is something we will work on in the future. We got some really good support and feedback from the Australian coaches who heaped praise on John”.
Boxing at the Tokyo 2020 Games was managed by a special taskforce of the IOC to ensure fairness and the IOC suspended integrity in the sport after AIBA in 2019 following an inquiry committee report into finance, governance, refereeing and judging.
Ume and Keto will turn their attention to the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in July 2022. Team PNG’s Facebook page will have regular updates of Team PNG in Tokyo.