And still the undisputed champion of Africa!

24 Mar, 2024 - 00:03 0 Views
And still the undisputed champion of Africa!

The Sunday Mail

Langton Nyakwenda

THERE is a special vibe in the country following another milestone achievement by a local pugilist.

Aliyah Phiri remains the undisputed African Boxing Union (ABU) lightweight champion after successfully defending his belt against Saidi Mkola of Tanzania at a packed venue in Avondale, Harare, on Friday night.

It was a gruelling fight — one of the best ever witnessed on home soil, as the two boxers exchanged heavy punches for 12 rounds before Phiri was declared the winner via a unanimous decision.

“This is for Zimbabwe!” declared Phiri.

“I have done it again and it’s good to do it in front of my home supporters.

“I want to thank the Government, my sponsors and all my fans for rallying behind me. It was nice to see the Deputy Minister (Emily Jesaya) and the boxing family in the house,” an elated Phiri said.

Deputy Minister of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture Jesaya was among the dignitaries, who included Zimbabwe National Boxing and Wrestling Control Board chairperson Vee Chibanda and her members.

Veteran local promoter Stalin Mau Mau also followed proceedings closely on the ringside and so did former World Boxing Council Silver welterweight champion Charles Manyuchi.

“As Government, we are happy with the work that promoters like Otto Boxing are doing to uplift the sport,” said Jesaya.

The 23-year-old Phiri comes from Otto Boxing Academy, which is fronted by his brother and trainer Ali Phiri.

He is promoted by Lindsay Earle, one of the two female boxing promoters in Zimbabwe.

The other one is Prosper Chibaya of the Charles Manyuchi Academy.

“They should continue in this trajectory to ensure that boxing remains alive in the country,” added Jesaya.

As was the case when Phiri won the ABU title in December last year, a strong crowd from the white community thronged the venue.

Reigning Miss Universe Zimbabwe Brooke Bruk-Jackson was in the crowd cheering Phiri from the first bell.

Mau Mau hailed Phiri for keeping Zimbabwe in the front row of African boxing.

“Phiri’s victory is a great gate opener,” Mau Mau said.

“The ABU is affiliated to the WBC, so champions from the ABU are recognised by the WBC.

“The ABU belt is a quality belt, it’s not Mickey Mouse stuff,” he added.

Mau Mau is happy Zimbabwe is now more visible on the African boxing radar, a development he sees as key in opening more opportunities for local boxers.

“We need to have more African champions in Zimbabwe because it puts our country on the spotlight,” he said.
He, however, lamented the lack of corporate support for the sport.

“Boxing promoters in Zimbabwe do so for charity, yet elsewhere in the world boxing is big business.”
Former Zimbabwe national team striker Matthew Rusike also attended the fight.

“I am here to support our boy. What he is doing is good for the country,” said Rusike, who is based in Sweden.

Phiri’s victory improved his record to 8-2-0 and the Zimbabwean will surely gain some more valuable points on the WBC rankings.

He went into the fight ranked number 34 in the world and he is the best-ranked African lightweight boxer by the WBC.

There were also crucial wins for Zimbabwean boxers who fought in the undercard bouts.

Evans “Vanso” Husayihwevhu edged Alexander Likande of Malawi in a tightly contested fight, while Tafadzwa Mushando surprised the highly rated Limbani Chikapa, also of Malawi.

X: @LangtonGuraz

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