Hero In Life, Deserted In Death: Murunga Government Snub Slammed

Nov 11 - by SPN Correspondent for sportpesa news

Boxing official and former Makadara MP, Reuben Ndolo laments double standards in treatment of Kenyan legends

Mourners led by Reuben Ndolo (right) carry the casket of legendary Kenyan boxer, Dick 'Tiger' Murunga during his funeral last week. PHOTO/Courtesy

  • Murunga, the first Kenyan boxing Olympic medallist who won bronze at the 1972 Munich Games passed on aged 65 on October 26 in a Nairobi hospital having spent the last years of his life in a wheelchair following debilitating injury suffered in 2002
  • Ndolo cited the huge Government presence at the funerals of famous local musician, Joseph Kamaru and 2015 world champion, Nicholas Bett as illustrations of double standards in treatment of the country’s legends
  • Murunga’s contemporary and Munich 1972 teammate, the legendary Philip Waruinge was however, not invited to the funeral. Sammy Mbugua, Waruinge’s younger sibling also won the bronze medal at the same Olympics


NAIROBI, Kenya- The country’s treatment of her sporting heroes came into sharp focus during the funeral of boxing legend, Dick ‘Tiger’ Murunga in Nairobi three days ago.

Murunga, the 1972 Munich Olympic Games bronze medallist passed on aged 65 on October 26 in a Nairobi hospital having spent the last years of his life in a wheelchair following debilitating injury suffered in 2002.

During the funeral service, former Kenya Professional Boxing Association (KPBA) chairman and Makadara MP, Reuben Ndolo, castigated authorities for giving Murunga’s burial a wide berth.

"Its a big shame there's nobody from the government here but if it was an athlete or footballer you'd see them in plenty.

"Tumechoka sasa na huu ubaguzi, kwani mabondia wamekosea wapi hatupati haki yetu.

“Dick ameiletea Kenya sifa kubwa lakini wakati angefaa apewe heshima ya mwisho hawaonekani (We are tired of this discrimination. What wrongs have boxers committed to be denied their rights? Dick brought huge fame to Kenya and when he deserved to be accorded his last respects, they were nowhere to be seen),” Ndolo charged.

The former legislator claimed they had approached President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto for assistance to no avail.

Double standards

Ndolo cited the huge Government presence at the funerals of famous local musician, Joseph Kamaru and 2015 world champion, Nicholas Bett as illustrations of double standards in treatment of the country’s legends.

The combative Commonwealth Boxing Council Director also took a swipe at local media for giving the boxer’s last journey a wide berth.

Among boxers present at the function were two-time Olympian Benson Gicharu, Judy Waguthi, Otti Tyson, Lt Col (Rtd) Aggrey Mwambi, David Makumba aka Bottoms Up, coach Patrick Maina and George ‘Foreman’ Onyango.

"I'm not happy to see very few people here, let's unite during such important functions and attend in large numbers," said the Bangladesh-bred Onyango who is rated as one of Kenya's best heavyweights.

Murunga’s contemporary and Munich 1972 teammate, the legendary Philip Waruinge was however, not invited to the funeral. Sammy Mbugua, Waruinge’s younger sibling also won the bronze medal at the same Olympics.

He founded the KPBA and following a fall in 2002 as he approached his vehicle following a gym session, he was found Murunga to have ruptured fascia (thin sheaths of fibrous tissue that protect veins) in his knee joints.

Murunga’s intense training led to his injuries and undeterred when he was confined permanently to the wheelchair in 2003, Murunga travelled far and wide to agitate for the rights of persons living with disability.

The boxer deserted Kenya Army where he had been recruited to join professional ranks, crossing to the border to Uganda where he fought in the East and Central Africa Amateur Boxing Association under a pseudonym Feisal Musante.