Zarika, Mwakinyo Arrive From The UK In Style For Nairobi Fight Night

Mar 17 - by Mutwiri Mutuota for SportPesa News

Retired former WBC men cruiser weight titleholder Tony Bellew, is among those expected in Nairobi next week from England to witness what will be the biggest boxing event thus far on Kenyan soil

From L: Tanzania boxing sensation Hassan Mwakinyo, Fatuma ‘Iron Fist’ Zarika and their their British trainer, Declan O'Rourke upon arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi from England, United Kingdom on March 16, 2019. PHOTO/ SPN

  • The East African pugilists were accompanied by their British trainer, Declan O'Rourke and were part of the advance team from the UK expected for the anticipated boxing showpiece that will be crowned by the title fight where Zarika will put her belt on the line against Zambian challenger and former WBC champion, Catherine Phiri in a rematch of their bruising encounter on December 2, 2017 where the Kenyan boxing queen won by an unanimous decision
  • Zarika was returning from her second build-up stint in the UK having gone to England to prepare for the Mercado fight where she won 2-1 by split decision in the first event billed as Nairobi Fight Night on September 9, 2018
  • On his part, Mwakinyo is buzzing to give the Kenyan public and his adoring supporters back home when he steps into the ring to face his Argentine opponent as the main undercard, insisting he was at home in this shores since his maternal grandmother hails from Mzambweni, in the coastal city of Mombasa


NAIROBI, Kenya- The calm of a Saturday night at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport was disrupted when World Boxing Council (WBC) women Super bantamweight champion, Fatuma 'Iron Fist' Zarika and Tanzanian rising sensation, Hassan 'Champez' Mwakinyo were accorded a rousing welcome in Kenya when they jetted in from England for next weekend's Nairobi Fight Night spectacular.

The East African pugilists were accompanied by their British trainer, Declan O'Rourke and were part of the advance team from the UK expected for the anticipated boxing showpiece that will be crowned by the title fight where Zarika will put her belt on the line against Zambian challenger and former WBC champion, Catherine Phiri in a rematch of their bruising encounter on December 2, 2017 where the Kenyan boxing queen won by an unanimous decision.

Retired former WBC men cruiser weight titleholder Tony Bellew, is among those expected in Nairobi next week from England to witness what will be the biggest boxing event thus far on Kenyan soil.

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"The training went on well despite the cold weather in England. I still maintain, I will give Phiri a beating that will make her whole body ache. Before I left, I stated she would not eat meat for a week when I'm done with her and that has not changed. 

"It will be a better fight than the first, it will not be easy and I have to work hard for the win. What I can ask Kenyans is to pray for me and turn out in large numbers for support and I'm determined not to disappoint my home fans," Zarika who will put her WBC title on the line for the third time after beating Phiri and Mexican Yamileth Mercado since dethroning Jamaican Alicia Ashley from the crown on October 1, 2016 in a shock victory in New York roared.

The 34 year-old unorthodox stance fighter who has 45 bouts under her belt since making her ring debut in 2003 maintained she looks forward to hang her gloves in a blaze of glory.

"This is not my last fight but this is my last year as a boxer before I retire and I want to go out as a champion," the 'Iron Fist' clarified amid reports she would call time on her inspirational career after trading punches with the Zambian in the Nairobi Fight Night jamboree set for the landmark Kenyatta International Convention Centre.

World Boxing Council (WBC) Super Bantamweight champion Fatuma ‘Iron Fist’ Zarika upon arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi from England, United Kingdom on March 16, 2019. PHOTO/ SPN

She was returning from her second build-up stint in the UK having gone to England to prepare for the Mercado fight where she won 2-1 by split decision in the first event billed as Nairobi Fight Night on September 9, 2018.

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"I was not experienced with that kind of training before but this time, I was used to what they need from a boxer. I met new boxers and we trained as a group which was a challenge but I'm ready and feel good with myself. Meeting Bellew again was great and I'm happy he will be here to watch me fight at home," Zarika outlined.

On his part, Mwakinyo is buzzing to give the Kenyan public and his adoring supporters back home when he steps into the ring to face his Argentine opponent as the main undercard, insisting he was at home in this shores since his maternal grandmother hails from Mzambweni, in the coastal city of Mombasa.

"I invite the President of Kenya (Uhuru Kenyatta), all top Government officials, important guests and Kenyans at large to come and support my sister Zarika and I as we show the world what we can do. That Argentine will go back home wishing he never came here in the first place," the confident 24 year-old who was born Halfan Hythani Hamza gushed.

"At first, training in the UK was difficult since I was not used to the cold conditions but when we got used to it, it was memorable. I know fans back home especially in Tanga where I come from will be following this fight so closely, even on YouTube and I promise they will not be let down," the fighter who was decked in a grey hoodie with sporting slacks, added.

 Both boxers trained in the UK under the auspices of entertainment and technology business, SportPesa and the signs special arrivals were due at Terminal 1 of JKIA on a cold early night were evident when members of the La Africana Kenya dancers belted a number of popular Kenyan traditional tunes much to the amusement of travelers and their welcoming parties.

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A curious crowd gathered and started to snap away with their smartphones as the energetic troupe that was established in March 2017 gyrated to the fast drum beats with some of the arriving passengers joining in the fun by saluting the performers, perhaps thinking this was the customary reception accorded at the biggest air travel gateway to the country.

On hand to receive Zarika and Mwakinyo were members of their family, among them Issa Bakari, a brother of the latter who travelled from their Tanga home as well as the two daughters of the women's WBC champion among others .

Assistant Marketing Manager, Partnerships Elizabeth Njenga led the SportPesa team that was on hand to welcome the headline acts of the second Nairobi Fight Night.