How boxing bodies laid ground for talent growth

By Ben Ahenda: Thursday, December 19th 2019 at 05:30 GMT +3 | Boxing
Kenya's Christine Ongare is punched by Northern Ireland's Carly McNaul during their women's 51kg semi-final boxing match during the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games at the Oxenford Studios venue on the Gold Coast on April 13, 2018. [Courtesy]

For the first time in years, the camaraderie between officials of the Boxing Federation of Kenya and Kenya Professional Boxing Commission seems somewhat real.

This was realised with the election of new officials of the two bodies in a relationship aimed at having boxers follow the due process of graduating from amateur to professional ranks.

Boxing Federation of Kenya (BFK) elections ushered in president Anthony ‘Jamal’ Ombok and Secretary-General David Munuhe, while former Makadara Member of Parliament Reuben Ndolo made a comeback as president of the Kenya Professional Boxing Commission (KPBC) with Franklin Imbenzi as his secretary-general.

“We must find a way of working with KPBC to enable our boxers to graduate amicably from one level to another,” Ombok said, during the final leg of the national Boxing League in Kisumu last month.

For a long time, officials of the two bodies have not been seeing eye to eye owing to endless wrangles that affected the sport.

The positive turnaround by officials of the two bodies marks a new beginning in Kenya’s boxing family as they approach the 2020 season with an aim of stamping their authority in the national and international championships.

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“We can only have good professional boxers moulded from talented amateurs. Such will have a good future in the professional ranks,” said Ndolo.

The national league began in March with wars from two factions, which led to two parallel leagues; one led by former chairman John Kameta and the other by Anthony ‘Jamal’ Ombok.

Later, the faction led by Ombok won the battle after it followed the laid down procedures by Sports Registrar Rose Wasike as enshrined in the new Sports Act.

Their league championship attracted county teams and several established clubs as well as those that were in Kameta’s corner.

The Boxing Federation of Kenya awarded boxers with end of the year prizes, a first in years.

Kenya Police reigned supreme as they retained the league title for the second consecutive year with an unassailable 133 points, ahead of arch rivals Kenya Defence Forces, who had 82 points.

Police dominated the prize awards with African Games flyweight silver medallist Shaffi Hassan Bakari being named the 2019 boxer of the year, while bantamweight Martin Oduor emerged as the most disciplined boxer.

Head coach David Munuhe won the tactician of the year award after leading the police to their second title.

The technical bench got standing ovation for steering The Hit Squad to bagging one silver and four bronze medals in the African Games in Morocco in August.

Some of the medallists were flyweight Shaffi Hassan Bakari (52kg), welterweight Maina Boniface Mogunde (69kg), middleweight Ouma George Cosby (75kg), heavyweight Elly Ajowi (91kg) and super-heavyweight Otieno Fredrick Ramogi.

(over 91kg).

In the end of the year female awards, Alice Weyego of Nairobi emerged as the most promising boxer while Gold Coast Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Christine Ongare, of Kenya Police, was the most disciplined boxer.

At the end of the league championships, the national technical Commission picked a provisional squad of 28 players who are preparing for the African Olympic qualifiers in Dakar, Senegal in February.

As amateur boxers were recording exemplary performance in local and international championships, professional boxers recorded mixed results in their outings.

The first casualty was World Boxing Council super-featherweight champion Fatuma Zarika, who lost to Mexican Yamileth Mercado in Chihuahua, Mexico last month.

That was the second time the two boxers were facing each other in an epic contest for the global title. Zarika won the first title at Charter Hall, in Nairobi, last year.

After her loss, Zarika took to social media ranting over being neglected by the government as she prepared for the return bout against the Mexican.

The pride of professional boxing was, nonetheless restored by African Boxing Union champion Rayton Okwiri, who retained his crown by defeating South Africa-based Augustine Matata of Democratic Republic of Congo on unanimous points decision.

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