Ex-boxers lament decline of Kenya's boxing scene

Source: Xinhua| 2019-01-18 22:29:26|Editor: Yurou
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NAIROBI, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- When the history of Kenya's boxing is chronicled, the golden years between 1982 and 1994 shall receive a special mention.

That was when Kenya ruled the boxing scene and would march toe-to-toe with powerhouse opponents such as the United States, the former Soviet Union and Cuba.

It was during this era that Robert Napunyi won an Olympic gold medal at the 1988 Games in Seoul.

Kenya's boxing squad was at its peak at this time, and the East African nation won boxing titles at the 1982, 1990 and 1994 Commonwealth Games, though the country has struggled to compete since.

"Presently, whenever Kenya competes at any international event, the best one can expect is a bronze medal or at most two if we are lucky," former boxer Thomas Wamburu told reporters.

Wamburu said the high boxing standards of the 1980s and 1990s were helped by the presence of boxing clubs in neighborhoods around Nairobi that nurtured youths who were inclined towards boxing.

The most outstanding were the Dallas Boxing Club and the Nakuru Boxing Club, each of which produced some of Kenya's finest boxers to date.

Stephen Muchoki, gold medal winner in the light flyweight category during the 1974 Commonwealth Games, and Philip Waruinge, who won silver at the 1972 Olympics, belonged to Dallas and Nakuru respectively.

"The other reason for the high performance level then was the highly competitive league that featured several clubs owned by companies like Kenya Breweries, Posta, Kimbo and Kenya Railways. These firms offered jobs to talented boxers, because having a boxing team was a source of pride," Wamburu said.

At present, the league only consists of clubs from the National Police Service, Kenya Prisons and Kenya Defense Forces, who compete among themselves and are devoid of other competition.

Omar Ahmed, who won gold in the heavyweight category at the 1987 All-Africa Games, said the standards of the game dropped progressively after that event, which was held in Nairobi.

"Kenya sent eight boxers into the finals during the event, who each won a gold medal. That was a proud moment to be Kenyan, especially with the cheering partisan crowd that almost brought the roof down," Ahmed said.