Martin Beni died last November while officiating at boxing championships in Port Moresby. It's been left to middleweight Junior Kauko Raka to carry forward Beni’s vision. He feels the old champion’s spirit at his back whenever he fights
NOOSA – The best Papua New Guinean boxer to emerge since Martin Beni 50 years ago departs PNG at the end of this month for bouts in the Philippines and Vietnam.
Beni had decided to return from retirement in 2018 to train lightweight boxer Junior Kauko Raka from the Bali-Vitu Islands in West New Britain Province.
“I want to witness the crowning of a PNG boxing champion before I close my eyes,” Beni said at the time.
But it was not to be, as the old man closed his eyes and died last November from a sudden heart attack at the age of 70 while officiating at boxing championships in Port Moresby.
It was left up to Raka to carry forward Beni’s vision and he feels the old champion’s spirit at his back whenever he fights.
Raka’s bouts in the Philippines and Vietnam are his final outings before his world title shot in October at Port Moresby’s John Guise stadium.
“This will be huge,” says a member of Raka’s support team, Joseph Kanene.
“Junior is a worthy successor to the great Martin Beni.
“Beni came out of retirement to train him believing he could become PNG’s first world champion.”
Now Kanene and Raka’s team are seeking sponsors for the bouts in the Philippines and Vietnam.
The first fight is in Vietnam on Friday 29 July and Kanene is hoping for sponsorship funding from reputable companies or organisations.
“Junior will promote their companies and merchandise and mention their names in the media every chance he gets,” said Kanene.
“He is another Martin Beni on the rise to international sporting stardom.”
On Saturday 6 August Raka will contest an exhibition bout in Paranaque, Manila, with Philippines champion, Roldan ‘The Cobra’ Aldea.
In Raka's previous fight against Aldea he lost narrowly on points in a World Boxing Association title match last year.
This was one of his three international bouts so far. Raka won the other two by knockout.
“Junior’s trip to Asia will remove ring rust and set him on course for the World Boxing Association’s Asia super featherweight title,” said Kanene.
“But we need more funds for the two weeks stay in the Philippines and Vietnam.
Junior Raka is now trained by Ephraim Montero, the well-known coach and trainer from South Bougainville.
Martin Beni - the Michael Somare of the ring - put PNG boxing on the sporting world map. Now his protégée Junior Raka seeks to do it again.
People or companies interested in sponsoring Raka's Asian trip should contact Joseph Kanene here: www.linezie.com