Best Of 2018: Zarika, Waguthii Punch Their Way To Coveted WBC Titles

Dec 28 - by Erick Ochieng for SportPesa News

Apart from Christine Ongare’s bronze medal at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, there is nothing to write home about BAK who have been entangled in endless squabbles

Fatuma Zarika punches Yamileth Mercado on her way to defend the WBC Super Bantamweight title in Nairobi on September 8. PHOTO/Nation

  • Kenya fared well in professional boxing in 2018 with Fatuma ‘Iron Fist’ Zarika and Judy Waguthii among the pugilists who won international titles in their individual categories
  • Zarika outclassed Yamileth Mercado of Mexico on a split point decision (2-1) to retain her World Boxing Council (WBC) Women Super Bantamweight title at a packed Kenyatta International Convention Center (KICC) on September 8
  • Waguthii defeated favourite Prisca Vicot of France on a unanimous points decision to lift the crown in Glattbrug, Switzerland on May 26

NAIROBI, Kenya- Kenya fared well in professional boxing in 2018 with Fatuma ‘Iron Fist’ Zarika and Judy Waguthii among the pugilists who won international titles in their individual categories.

Apart from Christine ‘Mamushka’ Ongare’s bronze medal in the women’s Flyweight (51kg) at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, there is nothing to write home about amateur boxing and the ‘Hit Squad’ as Boxing Association of Kenya (BAK) were involved in endless wrangles all through the season.

Zarika outclassed Yamileth Mercado of Mexico on a split point decision (2-1) to retain her World Boxing Council (WBC) Women Super Bantamweight title at a packed Kenyatta International Convention Center (KICC) on September 8.

“I concentrated my punches on her stomach, this left her gasping for breath and I was able to execute the fight easily,” underlined Zarika who was awarded 94-96, 97-93, 99-91 by the judges.

Zarika was inspired ahead of her title defence by Waguthii who had earlier won the WBC Women Super Lightweight belt in Europe.

Waguthii defeated favourite Prisca Vicot of France on a unanimous points decision to lift the crown in Glattbrug, Switzerland on May 26.

“Winning away from home is not easy, you have to be extremely good to be awarded the crown. I thank God for the victory,” Waguthii stated when she was presented with the Sports Journalists Association of Kenya/ StarTimes Sports Personality Of The Month Award for May in honour of the feat.

Gabriel Ochieng, who joined the paid ranks in 2015, won his first crown this year when Ramadhan Kumbele of Tanzania threw in the towel during their vacant Universal Boxing Organization (UBO) International Bantamweight title fight at the Impala Grounds in Nairobi on May 26.

On fire Ochieng went ahead to knock out celebrated Ugandan hard-hitter, Bob Lee Nsubuga, in a non-title slug fest at Kamukunji Grounds in Kibera on July 29.

“I’m on form, I feel motivated to go for other prestigious honors like the WBC, WBO and the IBF titles,” Ochieng told SportPesa News after the one sided bout.

Everlyn Odero cruised over Monalisa Sibanda of Zimbabwe to win the vacant Women's International Boxing Association International Super Lightweight title on a unanimous points decision at Treasure Gardens in Nairobi on September 1.

Sarah Achieng, the UBO Inter Continental Female Lightweight champion, returned from her maternity leave to end South Africa’s Bonita van Jaarsveld unbeaten record in Brakpan, Carnival City, South Africa on September 21.

However, her compatriot James Onyango, was unlucky throughout the year as all his three opponents backed off.

Kenya was lucky to host a three-day WBC conference at the KICC in Nairobi in July where over 40 local coaches were trained on boxing basics with those who passed the exams conferred certificates by the global body.

Kenya Professional Boxing Commission (KPBC) are scheduled to hold elections in 2019 after the federation president, Hillary Alila, announced that he will not defend his seat as he is eager to pass the mantle to young leaders who would steer the association to greater heights.

BAK squabbles

Ongare was the only Kenyan who won a medal out of track and field at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia.

Ongare, who was making her debut in the games, won her women Flyweight (51kg) medal in style, knocking out Sri Lankan pugilist, Jayasinghe Dulani in the quarters in the second round after realizing she was trailing after the first.

But her accomplishment in amateur boxing was overshadowed by the wrangles that bedeviled BAK who have split into two factions, one led by the outgoing federation president, John Kameta, and the other by secretary general, Isaac Mbote.

The stand-off affected the National Boxing League whose fifth and final leg in Kisumu is yet to be conducted, leaving BAK with no league champion in 2018.

Amateur boxing will also miss the services of Olympian Benson Gicharu who opted to hang his gloves after a fruitless attempt at Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Rayton ‘Boom Boom’ Okwiri, another Olympian, turned professional, while Elizabeth Andiego, who also represented Kenya at the 2012 London Olympics, is currently weighing options to turn professional.

“What is happening with BAK is so unfortunate, I will not hesitate to join the paid ranks if I get a good sponsor,” Andiego underscored.