US-bound Zarika purring ahead of World Boxing title defence

WBC champ Fatuma Zarika during a training session. (PHOTO/Courtesy)
WBC champ Fatuma Zarika during a training session. (PHOTO/Courtesy)

Fatuma Zarika returns to the US this week for preparations to defend her World Boxing Commission (WBC) world title, less than a year after winning the prestigious bout.

The Championship fight is slated for Dallas, Texas, USA on June 30 and she is expected to start training at Berry’s Boxing Gym in Las Vegas for the period she will be in America.

There has been a buzz about Zarika’s upcoming title fight and she has caught the eye of a local gaming firm which is sponsoring her logistics ahead of the crucial fight.

Zarika made history last year in October as the first Kenyan pugilist to win the prestigious WBC world title after dethroning Alicia Ashley, 49, from Jamaica from the WBC super-bantamweight title in a split decision at the Dort Federal Event Center in Flint in Michigan.

The 5’51⁄2″ featherweight was born in Nairobi on March 13, 1985 as Zarika Njeri and grew up in the sprawling estate of Riruta satellite in Nairobi before moving to Mathare North after losing her mother.

Her interest in boxing was kindled after watching Laila Ali, the daughter of the late boxing legend Muhammad Ali, subdue opponents with hard punches, prompting her to start training at Mathare 4A Gym under coach Okusimba.

She started her career as an amateur in 2000 after quitting school and enrolled at Mathare Boxing Club and fought four times, only losing once during that year, pushing her to turn professional and was signed up by former Kenyan International Caleb Kuya.

On October 12, 2003 she won a four-round decision in Nairobi over Rukken Koronoso of South Africa and trounced Ester Herkole a week later on October 19, 2003, in a four-round bout in Nairobi.

The hardworking mother of two delivered a Technical Knockout to Rukken Koronoso in the third round of a rematch, dropping Koronoso’s record to 1-2 on November 29, 2003.

Zarika, who is the second Kenyan woman professional boxer to hold a world title after Sarah Atieno’s UBO super featherweight championship title, moved to the US in February 2016 under new manager Nelson Lopez of Nelson Promotions.

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Story By Mac Otani
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