RABAT, August 23, 2019 – Despite winning Africa’s only gold medal in boxing at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Namibian pugilist Jonas Junias, who was arrested during the 2016 Rio Olympics after being accused of sexual harassment, is now considering taking a break from the boxing ring.
The Rio scandal was a rough patch in the 25-year-old’s career as he was put behind bars on suspicion of sexually assaulting a chambermaid. “I was released after four days and had to fight less than four hours after my release,” he recalled. “I was not mentally fit and ended up losing the fight.” But Junias has said the Rio incident did not affect his career afterwards because he does not think about it a lot. “To me it was like a joke, I didn’t take it into consideration, you know I have too much confidence and that did not break me,” he noted.
However, he is now looking to go on a break from the sport, and revealed his intentions in an interview with AIPS at the ongoing African Games. The 2017 African Boxing Championships welterweight winner believes his interest for boxing is fading away. He also wants to take care of his personal life. “I think I need to get more serious in this stage of life and focus on my studies,” he noted.
He said he will think more about taking a break after the World Boxing Championships billed for Russia next month. After which if he has made up his mind, he may return to boxing after two years as a professional boxer. The men’s AIBA Worlds are scheduled for Yekaterinburg, Russia from 7 to 21 September 2019.
Junias became well known in the boxing circles in 2014 after winning a silver medal (welterweight) during the Glascow Commonwealth Games, he was aged 20. He regards that year as the biggest of his career even though he feels he was robbed of a gold medal at the time. “I fought with a boxer from the host nation who I feel was favoured; you know boxing has its own politics. Even today I still believe I was robbed and that boosted my confidence to win gold in the same competition last year,” he said. “It felt good as I finally proved myself, I’m an athlete who is always hungry and wants to achieve more; even when people celebrate me I feel like I need more.” He won gold in the welterweight category during the 2018 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
Asked of his intentions for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics following his previous Olympics scandal, Junias had this to say; “It is all dependent on how I perform at the World Championships next month, if I win gold or silver then it will not be necessary for me to go the Olympics, I mean all the promoters of professional boxing will be looking at us,” he noted. “They are already monitoring me from the Commonwealth Games so it will be easy for me to join professional boxing. But like I said it is in my mindset that I should take the break for now.”
Junias fell in love with boxing at the age of ten after he was inspired by a late neighbor and friend, who was doing exceptionally well in boxing at the time. “He motivated me to focus on boxing. I was also a golf and football player which I was also good at but I ended up opting for boxing due to his motivation,” he remembered.
Quizzed on his views on the level of boxing in Africa as compared to other continents, Junias stated that he feels like boxing is still not advanced in Africa. “We have about two competitions a year but other continents have competitions throughout the year which is why I think we are a little bit behind and outdated in boxing,” he noted.
Meanwhile Junias said winning a medal in the African Games is not too much of a priority for him. He stated that he just came to motivate his teammates as he is the longest serving member of the team. “I however have too much pressure as people expect me to do well; I also have to maintain my name as a boxer,” he concluded.