Nairobi Fight Night 2: Just Who Is Catherine Phiri?

Mar 16 - by Mutwiri Mutuota for SportPesa News

Eminent Zambian female boxer and former WBC champion gained more fame on December 2, 2017 when she was involved in a brutal fight with Kenyan punching queen Fatuma Zarika

Catherine Phiri when she won the WBC Women Super Bantamweight title against Yazmin Rivas in Tijuana, Mexico on January 30, 2016. PHOTO/SPN

  • Since bursting into the ring as one of the fighters who rode the crest of the fame and glamour brought on female boxing by Conjestina 'Hands of Stone' Achieng' in 2003, Fatuma 'Iron Fist' Zarika has risen through glory, defeat and pain to not only become a World Boxing Council (WBC) Super bantamweight champion, but one of the most feared, respected and revered symbols in the sport
  • In the fifth round however, most of the locals feared the worst when Phiri landed a punch that cut Zarika's eye, leaving a scar that is prominently visible under the right eye of the champion to date
  • Her tale of the tape makes interesting reading, having featured in 19 fights that have yielded 16 wins and three loses with no draw. Phiri simply loves a brawl, setting out either to win or lose with a 53 per cent knockout record with a four and a half out of five rating on Boxrec, the boxing bible

NAIROBI, Kenya- When someone who goes by the moniker 'Iron Fist' hints her fight against an opponent named Catherine Phiri could be final bow in an illustrious boxing career that has broken all barriers, you should rather take them seriously.

Since bursting into the ring as one of the fighters who rode the crest of the fame and glamour brought on female boxing by Conjestina 'Hands of Stone' Achieng' in 2003, Fatuma 'Iron Fist' Zarika has risen through glory, defeat and pain to not only become a World Boxing Council (WBC) Super bantamweight champion, but one of the most feared, respected and revered symbols in the sport.

Speaking before she departed for a training camp in the United Kingdom last month, Zarika, 34, promised to silence Phiri once and for all in their rematch on March 23 at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi.

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Now on the final lap of a 16 year career, Zarika chose Phiri as one of, if not the last opponent she will face in the ring for good reason.

On December 2, 2017, the two met at Carnivore Grounds in Nairobi where Phiri was seeking to wrest Zarika's WBC crown in front of a passionate Kenyan crowd that was seeking an early Christmas present.

In the fifth round however, most of the locals feared the worst when Phiri landed a punch that cut Zarika's eye, leaving a scar that is prominently visible under the right eye of the champion to date.

“Prepare well for a classy defeat. A lot of people saw what happened and that is why the WBC gave Phiri another opportunity. Phiri would like to go for the title clean this time around. We don’t want to disclose much details but let the talking be done on the ring," the Phiri camp fired a warning to Zarika through her manager, Chris Malunga, last month.

Prestigious promotion

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It is the pain of this scar, inflicted according to Zarika by a wild, accidental blow and the fact that Phiri has even petitioned WBC- international boxing's most prestigious promotion- seeking to overturn the unanimous decision victory awarded to the Kenyan, that has spurred the Kenyan to put her title on the line for a second time against the Zambian.

For the record, Zarika scored 97-92, 98-91 and 99-92 from the three international judges who presided over the fight to be declared the winner but since then, Phiri's camp have never stopped crying foul.

Catherine Phiri of Zambia (in red top) against Fatuma Zarika during their WBC Women Super Bantamweight battle at the Carnivore Grounds in Nairobi on December 2, 2017.PHOTO/ SPN

So, just who is Catherine Phiri? 

The Lusaka resident, 32 made her boxing debut on May 28, 2011 and gained international fame when she became the WBC  bantam weight champion by defeating the Mexican boxer Yazmin Rivas on January 30, 2016.

Her tale of the tape makes interesting reading, having featured in 19 fights that have yielded 16 wins and three loses with no draw. Phiri simply loves a brawl, setting out either to win or lose with a 53 per cent knockout record with a four and a half out of five rating on Boxrec, the boxing bible.

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Phiri defeated fellow Zambian Esther Chalwe at the National Sports Development Centre in Lusaka and became the first boxer from her nation to win the linear WBC title after the legendary Lottie Mwale failed at the attempt on November 28, 1980 when he lost to Saad Muhammad when she floored Rivas.

Notably, her 13th fight was on August  27, 2016 at Lusaka's Government Complex where she knocked out South Africa's Gabisile Tshabalala for the WBC World female bantamweight title barely two minutes into the first round- two minutes and 37 seconds to be precise- after failing to respond to a flurry from Phiri. She then lost the bantam weight title to Mariana 'Barby' Juarez of Mexico on April 1, 2017, in Mexico City, Mexico where she once again vehemently disputed the result.

Besides receiving a State sponsorship to sturdy in Italy, her country's President Edgar Chagwa Lungu honoured Phiri with the Zambia insignia of meritorious achievement award for her accomplishment on Africa Freedom Day, May 25, 2017. She shares a name with Zambia High Court judge, Catherine Phiri.