The Sunday News
A DREAM that he has been chasing since his childhood came to reality on Friday night, before a conglomerate crowd that thronged 7 Arts Theatre in Avondale, Harare.
The 23-year-old Aliyah Phiri became the latest African Boxing Union champion from Zimbabwe when he stopped Israel Kamwamba of Malawi in the second round of a highly anticipated light weight contest.
After 2 minutes 48 seconds in the second round, Kamwamba’s corner threw in the towel, as the Malawian could no longer withstand a barrage of punches from Phiri. It was a historic moment for Zimbabwe, a country that has churned out international champions over the years.
Phiri joined the league of legends like the late former heavyweight champion Proud “Kilimanjaro” Chinembiri and Charles Manyuchi who held the coveted ABU title before.
And the Hatcliffe bred boxer could not hold back his tears as the ring announcer Patrick Kambuyi called out his name as the new African Boxing Union Lightweight champion.
A few seconds later, Phiri regained his composure, hugged his father Issa before delivering a short but touching speech.
“I want to thank my fans for supporting me,” he said, amid thunderous applause from the crowd.
“I respect the Zimbabwean flag and I will do my best to lift it higher. To the boxers out there I want to say chase your dreams no matter what it takes. Some people will look down on you but focus on your dream,” said Phiri.
The big fight was graced by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sport, Art and Recreation, Nicholas Moyo and several high profile boxing personalities.
Veteran boxing promoter Stalin Mau Mau, former Commonwealth champion Arifonso Zvenyika, female boxing promoter Prosper Chibaya and members from the boxing board were also present.
“Aliyah (Phiri) is a very good boxer and he proved it tonight (Friday),” said Mau Mau.
“It’s good for Zimbabwean boxing to have recognised champions. This puts our country on the world boxing map.”
The ABU title is a huge step towards greatness for Phiri who can now challenge for the World Boxing Council Africa belt which is a gateway to serious WBC titles.
The 23-year-old Phiri is trained by his brother Ali and his father Issa.
He has a lot of backing from the white community courtesy of her sponsor Lindsay Earle.
Beauty queen and current Ms Zimbabwe Brooke Bruk-Jackson was among the guests and she saluted Phiri for “the huge victory.”
“This is a huge victory for Zimbabwe and this is good for the country,” she said.
Another Zimbabwean boxer Tinashe “Jones” Majoni won the hearts of many after putting on a masterclass show in the victory against Alexander Bilalo of Malawi in the main undercard bout.
It was also interesting to see sons of former boxers taking to the ring to prolong their fathers’ legacies.
Hillary Josamu, son of the late Gilbert “Giro” Josamu won on points against Arifonso Zvenyika Jr in one of the fights.
There was also victory for local boxer Jeremiah “Jingo” Mhere.