Zarika and Police are main beneficiaries
2017 was not a good year for many boxers competing at various levels.
World Boxing Council super-bantamweight professional champion Fatuma Zarika and National Boxing League champions Kenya Police were the main beneficiaries of Kenya’s boxing scene last year.
It was also a year that Kenya failed to stamp her authority in the World Boxing Championships in Hamburg, Germany in August last year after a commendable performance in Africa Boxing Championships in Congo Brazzaville - which was a qualifier to the global championships, where three boxers won medals.
The trio were light flyweight Shaffi Bakari, lightweight Nick Okoth and middleweight John Kyalo.
The debacle in the global championships sent the Boxing Association of Kenya (BAK) back to the drawing board to start early preparations for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
In pursuit for top honours, Zarika and Police both retained their titles in grueling contests against worthy opponents.
Zarika beat Catherine Phiri of Zambia to retain the title at Carnivore Grounds while Police withered the storm against arch rivals Kenya Defence Forces to retain the national league title for the second consecutive year.
It was also a year that witnessed the biggest and well organised professional one-day-boxing extravaganza that saw eight big fights in Nairobi.
On her way to the title, Zarika enjoyed an eight week training stint in the United States of America funded by betting firm Sportpesa that exposed her to the state of the art gym facilities in Las Vegas under new manager Ejay Mathews of Larger Than Life Entertainment Group.
"It had marvelous returns and I hope to defend it anywhere, anytime at my pleasure as the title holder,” Zarika told Standard Sports after Phiri requested for a rematch in Zambia this year.
“I would like a rematch against her(Zarika) in my home country to see if she can beat me in the same manner before her fans in Nairobi,” Phiri appealed after lost the 10 round-contest.
The victory extended Zarika’s win record to 30, of which 17 are knockouts, 12 loses and a draw.
The event also saw the return of former Amateur Professional Boxing pugilist Rayton Okwiri who secured his second professional victory against Tanzanian Gutram Ngoya on unanimous points’ decision.
In the local amateur league front, Police shocked KDF on their way to retain the title. KDF earlier dominated the first leg in Kisumu to the penultimate leg in Nakuru before the policemen turned tables in the last leg in Mombasa after winning the Coastal Championships with 24 points and retaining the title with 102 points beating the soldiers by a point.
With the conclusion of the league, BAK’s Technical Commission ended up selecting a provisional squad of 40 players from eight clubs to slug it out for the final 10 slots for the Commonwealth Games in Australia in April.