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Angel of war: Achieng' rules the world stage, emulates Zarika


At last, Commonwealth super lightweight champion Sarah Achieng’ is the new World Boxing Foundation (WBF) super lightweight champion.

She achieved her long-time cherished dream of becoming the second female Kenyan professional pugilist to win an after former World Boxing Council super-bantamweight champion Fatuma Zarika.

Achieng’ achieved the feat after she outpointed world champion Matthysse Edith Soledad of Argentina in the 10-round fight at Charter Hall in Nairobi on Saturday night to win the vacant WBF super lightweight title.

 Sarah "Angel of War" Achieng of Kenya fights Edith Soledad Matthysse of Argentina during their World Boxing Foundation (WBF) Womens World Super lightweight title bout at Charter Hall, Nairobi on June 10, 2023. Achieng was crowned champion on a unanimous points decision. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

As a result, the 35-year-old-Achieng’ and Zarika are the only two female professional boxers to win world titles in Kenya’s professional boxing history.

Zarika lost her world title to Yamileth Mercado of Mexico in Chihuahua in 2019.

It’ll be a match Achieng’ will live to remember as she played her heart out in all the 10-rounds to beat the Argentine who tried to make a comeback in the fifth round but was overwhelmed. The 42-year-old-Soledad found the Kenyan professional pugilist too strong for her.

By winning the title, Achieng’ has kept five titles under her belt, a development that could attract corporate sponsorship in her future global international matches.

“Winning my fifth title is my pride of a lifetime and I believe it comes at the right time when world champion Faith Kipyegon has broken two world titles in 1500 and 5000 metres,” Achieng told Standard Sports.

The other four titles are Commonwealth Super Lightweight, Universal Boxing Organization (UBO) Super Lightweight, East and Central Africa Super Lightweight and the National Super Lightweight titles.

Low payment

Achieng is, however, not amused by the low payment in pro boxing. Her efforts landed her a measly Sh200,000.

“Promoters should be more serious and pay us a good amount of money so that we can invest in business,” says Achieng who turned pro in 2008.

“What we earn now is peanuts compared with boxers in Europe and the US. We have big titles and belts but our pockets are always empty. This is Africa and the chain of support in families is long.”

Last weekend’s match was the second world title fight that had been lined up for Achieng’ this year following the cancellation of the International Boxing Federation (IBF) super lightweight fight against Germany’s Oshin Derieuw in Belgium on February 4.

Earlier on June 11 last year, Achieng’ missed another world title fight against Tunisian-born German Ikram Kerwat for the Women International Boxing Federation (WIBF) super lightweight(63.5kg) title in Cleveland, Ohio in the United States of America.

In a past interview, Achieng’ had said all these postponements were because her opponents feared her.

“These people (opponents) have avoided me many times because they fear me, hence all these postponements. In fact, they (postponements) have really affected my morale and training programmes,” Achieng’ had said.

Soledad is a former unified featherweight world champion who held World Boxing Association (WBA) female title from 2013 to 2016 and World Boxing Council (WBC) from 2015- 2016.

She’s the elder sister to former world champion Lucas Matthysse.

Achieng’s last fight was on December 16 when she successfully defended the Commonwealth super lightweight title on a technical knockout in the eighth round against Zimbabwe’s Chiedza Homakoma at the same venue (Charter Hall).

The 10-round fight was promoted by Boxgals Promotions, and had been sanctioned by the World Boxing Federation (WBF) and Kenya Professional Boxing Commission (KPBC).


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