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The Congolese boxing team qualified a boxer for the AIBA World Championships for the first time in their history when Rodrigue Ngalebaye secured the Light Heavyweight (81kg) bronze medal at this year’s AFBC Continental Championships in June.  Spearheading a new wave of popularity of the sport in Congo, Ngalebaye’s achievement has captured his country’s imagination, and ahead of his trip to Hamburg he told AIBA how he feels about making history for boxing in his country.

Rodrigue, congratulations on your AFBC bronze medal and qualification for Hamburg, could you tell us about yourself and your career so far?
I was born in Brazzaville in 1988 and took up training at the Inter Club of Congo, where I am now the team captain, training under my coaches Kaya Mboulou and Max Wamba. After winning three national titles, I joined the national team in 2015, and now I am heading to my first World Championships.

How does it feel to be heading to Hamburg 2for the 2017 AIBA World Boxing Championships?
I was thrilled when I won the bronze medal at the AFBC African Confederation Boxing Championships in Brazzaville. I used to dream about taking part in the world’s biggest boxing events and I worked hard to reach my goal and realise that dream. I am ready to show what I can do in Hamburg.

How have you been preparing for Hamburg?
I have increased my number of training sessions, doing more interval training, running and sparring to make sure I am in my best shape for the World Championships. I am focussed on trying to win a medal in Hamburg, but I want to enjoy my bouts and test myself against the best boxers in the world.

What is your biggest strength in the ring and which boxers do you admire most?
I would say it is my jab and my attacking power that I want to use in Hamburg to cause a few surprises. Mike Tyson was always a hero of mine, but now I would say that France’s Olympic gold medallist Tony Yoka is my true idol.