Victory denied to Kenyan boxers?

Published on 07/06/2009

By Erick Ochieng’

Women’s boxing sensation Conjestina ‘Hands of Stone’ Achieng’ is a furious lady.

The former world champion is angry with the Government, particularly Ministry of Sports, for not supporting her quest for world titles.

Achieng’, who returned two weeks ago from Germany, says it was the absence of Government delegation there that made her be robbed of the vacant Women’s International Boxing Federation middleweight title.

Her fight against Swedish Maria Lindberg, which was umpired by German Holger Wemann on May 5, was declared a draw by the judges who insisted the outcome was 95-95, 97-95, and 96-97.

“I don’t understand why the results, which were being recorded electronically, could have taken 10 minutes to be announced after the fight,” Achieng’ laments.

But are there other reasons that could have ignited wrath of the boxer who once added brilliance to the local boxing industry?

“While in Germany,” she says, ” I was ashamed by the treatment accorded to my opponent Maria. The Swedes crossed over and came in droves including the country’s vice president to support their girl.”

Swedish Colours

“The Royal Event Centre in Berlin where we were fighting was all painted with Swedish colours and there was no space for Kenyan flag to be hoisted, thanks to the fact that I had no delegation. It is not easy to box in such circumstances. That’s when you realise the kind of burden you are carrying for your own country, and if you are faint-hearted, you will definitely lose even if you prepared ten times,” she lamented.

What inspired her was the Kenyan Ambassador, Mutuma Kathurima, who mobilised Kenyans at the last minute to come and cheer her. Never did she know the bout would turn out to be a racial/continental affair.

“All the Africans and blacks rallied behind me, while the whites were supporting Maria and, because I did not have adequate support, I was denied the belt. They said the bout was a draw yet I won. My fans broke into a fight which later led to several arrests.”

A reflection

This was a reflection of her bouts against Russian Natascha Ragosina last year in Germany, which outcry from many who were not contented with the judges’ decision. The fight has since been rescheduled to a neutral ground this year.

Lightweight Peter Oluoch, who fought Ugandan Justin Juuku in Kampala two weeks ago, concurs with Achieng’.

‘I knocked my Ugandan opponent down in the first and fourth rounds, but the Ugandan referees just urged him on.

The ten-round bout was stopped in the ninth because he was bleeding badly but the shock of my life is that he was declared the winner,”

Regretted Oluoch.

“This couldn’t have happened if I had any delegation with me,” he adds.

Achieng’ regrets she is wasting her country in terms of revenues by going to fight abroad. She explains that through fighting at home, she is promoting sports tourism and youths like the round card girls.

Kenya Professional Boxing Commission (KPBC) Secretary-General Shaaban Ogolla says it is difficult to return home with a belt if you are not accompanied.

“The only option is to kill your opponent because even if you knock them down, they’ll still be propped up to continue with the fight,”Ogolla says.

Ogolla wonders why Kenyans complained when Fatuma Zarika was awarded victory against US-based Puerto Rican Belinda Laracuente last year, considering the kind of torture local boxers undergo out of the country.

He now wants the boxers to be accompanied by the sports minister, sports commissioner, an official from KPBC and a member of the Kenya National Sports Council while on fights abroad.

Super featherweight David Kiilu is the only boxer in recent times to return with a belt back home. He floored Polish Dariusz Snarski, who was later rushed by an ambulance to the hospital, to claim the vacant Universal Boxing Council lightweight title in December last year.

Anthony Napunyi, Raymond ‘King Kong’ Ochieng’ and Morris Chule were floored last month while fighting in Europe.

We hope Samuel Kamau, who is fighting Polish Krystof Cieslak for an IBF World Youth title tonight in Poland, will come back with title even though he is short of delegation.

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