Boxing, like many other sports, requires proper training, mental preparation and self-discipline for a boxer to be recognized and be able to move on.
Kenya has produced world class boxers over the years but not at the moment.
To understand the intrigues in boxing, I asked Joseph Akhasamba, one of Kenya’s most accomplished boxers both locally and internationally, to bring to light what our current boxers, fans and others need to know.
“Nothing comes easy in boxing and my advice to boxers and especially the upcoming ones is self-discipline, have the heart to train and when you enter into the ring, fight to the best of your ability,” he says.
“Should you lose, do not get discouraged. Get back into the gym, rectify your mistakes and by the time you get back to the ring you will be 99 percent a winner. Always remember there is life to live after boxing.’’
Akhasamba’s most memorable moments were when he became Kenya champion at Light-heavyweight in 1987 and 1988 East and Central Africa champion.
Boxer of the year
He won gold for Kenya during the Commonwealth Games in New Zealand in 1990 and silver during the King’s Cup in Thailand and was voted Best Boxer of the year.
During the All African Games in Cairo in 1991, Akhasamba was the only Kenyan boxer to qualify for the finals where he won silver. Kenya had one silver and one bronze. Akhasamba turned professional in 1995 and won national heavyweight title in 1996.
In 1998 he won the Africa heavyweight title. His major win as a professional was in May, 2000, when he won World Boxing Board title (WBB) in Germany.
Akhasamba also feels the government and private companies can also come together and ensure talented boxers are given jobs.
Other talents in different sports should be considered.
During the good old days when boxing had attracted many young boxers, Akhasamba recalls how some boxing clubs could raise a team on their own since talent was there.
World title holders
He remembers so many of the boxers who brought fame to this country for many years.
Here we mention just a few: Ibrahim (Surf) Bilali, Kamau “Pipino” Wanyoike, John Wanjau, George “Foreman” Onyango, Patrick “Mont” Waweru, Omar Kasongo, Ken “Valdez” Ochieng, Evans Ashira Oure, David Kamau, Stephen Muchoki, Philip Waruingi… and the list goes on.
Akhasamba and Oure are the only Kenyan boxers to have won a version of world title in professional boxing.
Both are close friends who come from the same region of Western Kenya.
Both excelled in professional boxing while in Europe.
A former member of Kenya breweries (KBL) Boxing club where he worked for 12 years, Akhasamba retired from boxing in 2004.
He spends most of his time in his rural home where he does some small scale farming and runs a posho mill to support his family. Once in a while, he comes to Nairobi to be with his working sons.
We may be down in boxing at the moment, but with proper planning Kenya can gradually regain its lost glory.
Even the dominant nations like the United States are not smiling. All the heavyweight professional titles are in Britain.