I spent part of the Farmers Day holidays down at the Lusaka Showgrounds’ Old Bandstand to catch some amateur boxing action.
It is unfortunate that amateur boxing, the birth place of Zambia’s finest, unfairly doesn’t get any prominent coverage unless during build-ups to international outings.
Every boxers route to square circle greatness begins in the world of amateur boxing with dreams of
African, World and Olympic glory that ultimately opens doors to the big lights of pro-boxing.
This past weekend, the Midlands Amateur Boxing Association (Maba) successfully staged an open championship that attracted over half a dozen clubs from Lusaka and Southern Province.
Buffaloes as usual dominated winning four out of the six weight divisions contested for over a crowed three dusty, hot days at the Showgrounds.
As usual, there were no big-weight boxers on show underlining the demise of the light heavy and heavyweight era in Zambia, even from a boxing hotbed like Buffaloes.
However, for someone seeking an insight of the potential talent in the other weight classes that lies in the amateur ranks, I tried to objectively to watch some boxing boarding from decent to at times mare slapping.
What really caught my eye was none of the six winners but a quartet of low-profile fighters who took to the ring during the course of the event.
Topping the list is Under-21 welterweight talent Ben Muziyo, a medal prospect from the provisional junior team selected to represent Zambia at their inaugural Youth Olympics in Singapore next year.
The tall teenage boxer who has sparred with the senior team this year lost 2-1 to zone 6 silver medalist and 2008 Olympian Precious Makina of Buffaloes.
While Muziyo of ZNS battled his way to the final over three days to face Makina, his opponent enjoyed a golden ticket bye to the final.
Muziyo who had a reach and height advantage over Makina gave the national champion something to think about dominating the first round before the more experienced latter gnawed his way to victory in the subsequent last two rounds bruising the youngster in the process.
There was also some interesting action in the women’s amateur female category where 18-year-old featherweight Bridget Lukonde is looking the most promising of the crop.
Lukonde, a classy fighter from African Directions of Lusaka, out-boxed with great technique all her opponents from round one but three days of boxing seemingly took their toll on her before drawing with newcomer Jangaza Muleya from Maamba in the final.
This pushed Lukonde’s personal amateur record to 7 wins, 3 losses and a draw.
Should their be women’s boxing at the 2012 London Olympics and maybe Lukonde stays in the straight and narrow or resist the lure of joining Esther Phiri in the pro ranks, she looks like an early prospect for the UK games.
There was also some interesting raw talent on show from Southern Province whose boxers freely expressed their cavalier technique in the ring at the tournament.
The flamboyant junior lightweight Dan Banda from Mazabuka showed a slight shade reminiscent of one Naseem Hamed.
Banda out-pointed the more methodical and schooled Mathews Phiri of Nkwazi in Lusaka to win 2-1 in their junior lightweight contest.
Further lower in the chain was a fist- of- fury match-up between 15-year-old junior flyweights in another Nkwazi-Nakambala showdown.
Laston Bweupe of Nakambala and Peter Ngoma from Nkwazi , both considered the cream in their ranks,
battled in another lively junior contest of Southern entertainment versus the measured approach from the Midlands youngster.
Meanwhile, the tournament also produced a riveting featherweight final brawl between seniors Adrian Sianga of Nakambala and fellow Zone 6 team mate Martin Chibela from Buffaloes.
The two boxers went toe-to-toe in their 3-round slugfest that saw Sianga and Chibela grind-out to a 2-1 result in favor of the former.
Chibela had previously beaten Sianga by the same margin in their last meeting in a Southern Province Open Championship held in Choma on July 11.
The next tournament is slated for Southern Province in Livingstone at the month-end, sadly my schedule will not allow me to travel down to check-out more action, though I must confess that am now hooked.