Kenya's foremost female boxer Fatuma 'Iron Fist' Zarika faces off with her Zambian challenger Catherine Phiri at a Nairobi hotel ahead of their rematch at the weekend.

[dropcap]B[/dropcap]y sheer attendance, former boxing sensation Conjestina ‘Hand of Stone’ Achieng’ added special energy to the Nairobi Fight Night, showing how much female boxing has become a gem in Kenya.

Male f****s in the Nairobi Fight Night were more than female ones but it was a female fight that was the main event highlighting the night. Prior to the event, the Kenyan sporting community was talking about the Zarika vs Phiri match so much that one could feel the match is the fight of the century. Well, to Kenyans, it could just be the fight of the decade as it pitted a rematch between two great African fighters.

Fatuma Zarika started her boxing career just around the same time that Conjestina started hers but the latter lacked support hence quitting early amidst health complications. If Conjestina would have got the support Zarika has received from stakeholders, she might have been the one headlining the Nairobi Fight Night.

The fact that Catherine Phiri was chosen to be Zarika’s opponent’s shows how the event promoters’ plan to uplift women in sports. Phiri comes from Zambia., a country that has witnessed a lot of female discrimination in the past and she is a role model to most girls in the counties. In fact, Phiri herself was mentored by Esther Phiri who was the first female boxer in Zambia.

The fight attracted a lot of people across Africa and beyond. It was even aired live on local channels as well as International ones. Apart from Zambian travelling fans who were in support of  Phiri, there were a lot of other Internationals who attended the event.

“It is my first time watching a boxing match in Kenya, I have watched soccer matches before and I can see there is a lot of talent and promise in Kenyan female boxing. The boxers have talents and with more events like this, I am sure Kenyan female boxing is bound to grow even more,” Srmeti Sasa, a Serbian citizen who was at the event told Business Today.

Apart from the Zarika vs Phiri fight, there was another female boxing match between two Kenyan fighters, Joyce Awino and Sarah Achieng. The female boxing scene has overshadowed the male one in the last decade as Kenya is yet to witness another exceptional male boxer since names like Robert Wangila and Chris Odera highlighted the boxing scene in the country. An upcoming talent, however, Rayton Okwiri deserves an honourable mention.

At the Nairobi Fight Night, Rayton ‘BumBum’ Okwiri won the hearts of many Kenyans when he Knocked out his Tanzanian opponent Pascal ‘The Prince of Kilimanjaro’ Bruno. Perhaps the third edition of the Nairobi Fight Night will have a male fight as the main event and if it happens you can bet that Okwiri will be f******g in it. It is only with the help of devoted firms like Sportpesa that athletes like Okwiri get to grow.

The rise of Sportpesa has proved to be a great addition to the sporting scene in Kenya as the firm continuously promotes multiple sports in the country. Compared to Kenyan Sports Governing bodies, who get their funding from the government, Sportpesa is doing almost all the work in improving sports in Kenya. Take the Nairobi Fight Night, for instance, the event was solely funded by Sportpesa with a few stakeholders helping in the preparation.

Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed did not attend the function, an act that annoyed the fans as to them, it showed how little the ministry prioritises developing sports in the country. At the mention of her name, fans booed. Many Kenyans have previously complained how the Sports docket never gets the right person to help grow sports in the country.

Nairobi Women Representative Esther Passaris was present to give support to the girls overshadowing the input of the Sports ministry. As opposed to the boos Amina received at the mention of her name, Passaris graced the ring to give her remarks and you could see how much she was welcomed their by the cheers she received. She thanked the event organisers and Sportpesa for helping put Kenyan female boxing back on the map.

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Female boxing in the country has grown and is still growing. Young girls who are just getting into boxing look up to their living legends – Fatuma ‘Iron Fist’ Zarika and Conjestina ‘Hand of Stone’ Achieng’ – for inspiration. The two legends are likely to inspire a lot of girls to venture in boxing.