Female boxer Zarika set for major bouts, courtesy of SportPesa
There are prospects of Kenya’s female boxing celebrity Fatuma Zarika returning to defend her World Boxing Council (WBC) bantamweight belt courtesy of sponsorship from betting platform SportPesa.
SportPesa Chief Executive Officer Ronald Karauri said the firm is more than willing to help needy cases in the country’s sports and that it will help Zarika when the right time comes.
“We cannot promise full time sponsorship but you can rest assured that we shall help where it matters and especially on facilities which lacks in most sporting disciplines,” said Karauri.
He made the declaration even as Zarika, who is SportPesa’s Brand Ambassador, said she plans to feature in two major fights after being idle for two years due to the government’s directive to halt most contact sports to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Zarika has missed action for two years since she outpointed Mecina Yamileth Mercardo in Nairobi to capture the WBC belt. “I would like to represent Kenya again by defending the belt.
This will be the biggest opportunity to prove that I’m still the queen of boxing in Kenya,” said Zarika.
In the meantime, SportPesa yesterday extended its philanthropy by upgrading the Umoja Boxing Gymnasium within Embakasi in Nairobi and which will be the training venue of Zarika.
The refurbishment is the construction of a new roof enabling permanent installation of its ring thus giving amateur boxers access to train round the clock.
SportPesa’s support is in addition to a donation of boxing kits facilitating upcoming fighters to train comfortably.
The Umoja Boxing Gym was started in 2002 as a makeshift structure by amateur boxers in Umoja Estate and was later upgraded, with the help of local elected leaders and Boxing Federation of Kenya chairman Anthony Ombok, into a gym.
It comprised a cemented training area and basic gym equipment but lacked a roof.
The roof renovation cost Ksh1.2 million with SportPesa Chif Executive Officer Ronald Karauri saying it is part of their social corporate responsibility.
“Sports has always been at the heart of what SportPesa does. As we adopt other areas of support to the community through our CSR arm SportPesa Foundation, we shall also keep in sight various sports projects such as this one,” said SportPesa CEO Captain Ronald Karauri.
“We are proud to play a role in uplifting this community initiative that gives the young people of this area hope and a future, of being professional boxers,” added Karauri.
At any one time up to 30 amateur boxers train at the gym. Over the years it has trained over 100 boxers some of who have moved to professional boxing including George Onyango – who fights in the light weight category.
Onyango is remembered for defeating Fred Nyakesa during the September 2018’s Nairobi Fight Night which was sponsored and staged by SportPesa.