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Francis Njoroge (red) Ongata Rongai Boxing Club dishes out a brutal jab to Victor Mwanthi (blue) of Beasthouse Boxing Club in the Lightweight finals in the Kajiado Intermediates in Ngong Town. Photo/COURTESY

Boxing

Why Kajiado “Morans” yearn to be a part of Kenya’s rich boxing history

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 27 – Kajiado has over the years established itself as a motorsport hub.

The County is famous worldwide for it’s car-breaking but picturesque World Rally Championship (WRC) Safari Rally competitive stages.

It’s by and large the epicenter of nomadic ‘Masai Morans’ synonymous with the “Magical Kenya” brand.

The Railway Crossing section in Kajiado has over the years served-up great moments from world-beating rally drivers among them Juha Kankkunen, Bjorn Waldegaard and Tommi Makinen just to name but a few!

The sporting story of this beautiful county doesn’t just end with the emblematic motor-racing facet. A group of enthusiast boxing officials have been working round the clock to return Kajiado back to global limelight with “hooks and jabs”.

“In the next 10 years, I see Kajiado as the leading County producing boxing champions in Kenya. I also see our local Association -KCBA- being the leading administrators of any sport in the country,” said Coach Mike Otieno, who is among pioneers of Kajiado boxing and has over the years savored an insatiable appetite for success with special emphasis on the youth involved with the revered sport. He is among the coaches trying to make the difference in Kajiado’s ambitious boxing journey.

“I won the National Novices in 2016, founded Ongata Rongai Boxing Club which was, by and large, the first ever boxing club in Kajiado. Boxers from our Club won most of the titles that year. I won the National Novices. Thomas Kamboi was runners up in the National Intermediates in 2016. Lennox Omukhwaya was runners up in the Bantamweight division of the National Intermediate in 2016,” Coach Otieno recalls.

When Boxing Federation of Kenya (BFK) complied with the Sports Act of 2013 and held its historic election last year, Kajiado was among the county Associations which were formed to enable the sport spread it’s tentacles across the country.

“Our BFK president (Anthony Ombok Jamal) has been very supportive of our initiatives. He has encouraged us to keep moving through and through. Our Association was registered this year in February 2020. We have five clubs, namely Ongata Rongai Boxing Club, Beasthouse Boxing Club, Ongata Rongai Lions Den Boxing Club and Ngong Boxing Club. Currently, we have 110 boxers in our Association. One of my notable boxers is Welterweight Khal Gordon. He is the Captain of South Sudan National Boxing team and my able Captain at Ongata Rongai Boxing Club. He is hoping to compete in the forthcoming Tokyo Olympics Games. Coaches in Kajiado work hand in hand in matters development. I still coach Ongata Rongai Boxing Club.

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Beasthouse Boxing Club is handled by Titus Matheka. Ongata Rongai Lions Den Boxing Club is under the tutelage of Aurther Njoroge, Ngong Boxing Club under Paul Muhia

Kajiado Boxing Club is under the watchful eye of former Kenya International, 1987 All Africa games light middleweight gold medalist Mohammed Orungi.”

“Three of our clubs are based in Ongata Rongai. They are Ongata Rongai Boxing Club, Ongata Rongai Lions Den Boxing Club and Beasthouse Boxing Club. Ngong Boxing Club is based in Ngong while Kajiado Boxing Club is in Kajiado town.”

The great effort by boxers has nevertheless suffered a few challenges here and there.

“We have not had enough boxing equipment mostly gloves, pads, punching bag, skipping ropes, track suits, running shoes etc. Most of our clubs don’t have somewhere permanent to train. Our coaches also need more training and exposure to get their coaching licenses. We are in dire need of corporate sponsorship to enable us to run our Association activities.

Sponsorship will enable us to facilitate boxers to travel to tournaments to and from. Our boxers need any kind of formal or semi-formal employment which we try to assist through and through. Most of them have nothing to do besides boxing. We need media coverage to enable us to grow grassroots boxing in Kajiado,” Coach Otieno narrated.

To try and woe the corporate world, the Association recently unveiled its official website (https://kcba.co.ke). At the present, KCBA is working to bolster it’s structures across the board.

“Our initial goal was to qualify for the Kenya National Boxing League which we already accomplished. So, our immediate plan is to grow grassroots boxing by having more clubs formed in our county. We have set ourselves a target of 10 clubs within 2021. We also have a plan to find corporate sponsorship before the league begins.

Our long-term plan is to have our county team (The Boxing Morans) win the Kenya National Boxing League by 2024 before we leave office. We also have another ambitious long-term plan to have our boxers be self-reliant through sport. Boxers will not need to be employed elsewhere to make a living. The essence is for our boxing to be able to sustain itself while also providing employment to boxers so that they would not need to find work elsewhere. Lastly, we are looking at a scenario where Kajiado will produce at least two Olympians in the years to come.As the old Chinese adage goes, a thousand miles journey begins with one step.”

Otieno retired from boxing with the sole objective to help grow the sport in his County. He is a former amateur boxer.

“The idea of forming the Association came to my mind when I took my boxers from Ongata Rongai Boxing Club to participate in the national league. I was told I had to register our County because only Counties were allowed to participate. I then met some officials who guided me on how we can register, and he has been a big help for us with his guidance.

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The pioneers were myself and our Chairman Moses Kamalik. We have successfully held the Kajiado Novices (held in Ongata Rongai) and Kajiado Intermediates ( held in Ngong Town). We participated in the National Novices in Charter Hall 2020 and produced two semifinalists Paul Teeka in Lightflyweight and Abu Rahman in Middleweight division.

We participated in the National Intermediate in Thika 2020 which unfortunately was the last Tournament from which COVID-19 situation set in.

We had three semifinalists in Paul Teeka lightflyweight, Benson Matheka flyweight, and Kefa Kanali in bantamweight division.”

At the moment, Kajiado has no Masai boxer competing but plans are underway to woe them into the sport. “We do have one Masai. But he’s a bit far off from getting inside the ring. We don’t want to rush him.

So, what’s Kajiado’s mission in the Sport? “Our mission is to advance, develop, and promote the sport of Boxing in Kajiado County. We will offer the requisite integrity, respect, responsibility, innovation and accountability with the funds our sponsors provide. Furthermore, Kajiado is still a rural urban setting, meaning the corporate and well-wishers will get new business, new markets, more customers with being associated with us,” Coach Otieno said.

Ongata Rongai Boxing Club has had Khal Gordon as it’s finest boxer.

“He (Gordon) competes in the welterweight division. He is a South paw. He’s a strong power puncher who uses his left hand well. He has good footwork and overall technique.”

Dennis Ouma is another good boxer in Ongata Rongai production line. ‘He (Ouma) competes in the fyweight division and one of the most technically gifted boxer I’ve seen since I started boxing. He has a very elusive style. He makes opponents miss at will. He can weave, bon and duck.’

Beasthouse Boxing Club has Victor Mwanthi who competes in the lightweight division. “Victor has an orthodox stance and one of the hardest working boxers in the Kajiado production line. He’s always on weight and never gives up.”

Ongata Rongai Lions Den Boxing Club has Kefa Kanali who competes in the Bantamweight division. “Kefa is the Captain of his club. One of the standout performers in the recent National Intermediate 2020. He has a very good jab and uses his right hand effectively well.”

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Otieno is grateful for BFK support and guidance. “At the moment, BFK has provided us with guidance and advice on how to administrate boxing in our county. With lack of corporate sponsors, we understand BFK’s position of catering for the national team at the moment. In a bid to achieve our mission and vision, we have taken it upon ourselves to solicit corporate sponsorship and not wait for the national Federation because they have a huge burden of catering for national tournaments, the national team and such.”

Kajiado are currently at the county level putting measures in place to have a junior team by next year. “BFK introduced junior national tournaments this year so we will be able to participate next year. At Ongata Rongai Boxing Club, I have a junior team currently with four junior boxers. Juniors are the future of boxing. If we can be able to start training our boxers at a young age, then the future is bright. This way it’s easier to produce international boxing champions.”

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