NAIROBI, Kenya- World Boxing Council (WBC) Super bantamweight women champion, Fatuma ‘Iron Fist’ Zarika is unsure of where she will defend her title in May saying it all depends on whether she can raise finances to bring the bout to Nairobi.
She was speaking on Thursday afternoon after being honoured by the Sports Journalists Association of Kenya (SJAK) and pay television station, StarTimes in Nairobi.
Zarika is set to put the belt on the line against the winner of the fight between former champion Alicia Ashley of Jamaica and European Boxing Union Super bantamweight champion, Dina Thorslund of Denmark.
Ashley and Thorslund fight is set for March 10 at the Struer Arena in Denmark with the latter, 24, who started her professional boxing career in 2015 being also the current WBC Youth Female Super Bantamweight champion.
Ashley would meet Zarika for the second time in less than two years should she triumph over the Dane having been beaten by the Kenyan on unanimous points decision at the Dort Federal Event Center in Michigan, USA on October 10, 2016.
She successfully defended the title against Zambian Catherine Phiri at the Carnivore Grounds in Nairobi on December 2,2017.
“My second title defence was supposed to be in March this year, but I requested WBC to grant me a grace period of three months to look for a sponsor to fund the fight,” Zarika explained.
“I had suggested June but WBC settled on May. I’m asking well-wishers to come on board to support me toward this fight. If I don’t get a sponsor, I will be forced to either defend the title in USA or Denmark depending on the outcome between Ashley and Thorslund,” Zarika stated.
“Defending a belt in a foreign land is hard going by my experience from international titles,” she added.
She beat national chess champion, Joyce Nyaruai, and four-time Safari rally champion, Carl ‘Flash’ Tundo, to be the sixth recipient of the coveted SJAK/StarTimes prize.
The 34-year-old won the brutal bout against Phiri on points after she scored 97-92, 98-91 and 99-92 from the three international judges who presided over the fight.
The victory in front of an adoring home support extended her win record to 30, of which 17 have been via knock-outs.
The victory saw Zarika bestowed Head of State Commendation (HSC) honour by President Uhuru Kenyatta as Kenya celebrated her 54th Jamhuri Day on December 12.
“I was happy to retain the belt. The win was an inspiration that hard work pays in the end. I’m hoping to defend the title again this year,” said Zarika.
Other athletes who have been honoured with the SJAK/StarTimes award are Simon Kibai Cherono (Deaflympics), Helen Obiri (athletics), Janet Okelo (rugby), Ismail Changawa (Tennis) and Edith Wisa (volleyball).
“This is a great surprise. This truly goes a long way to inspire and motivate me to work harder. It is also an inspiration to other boxers,” she underlined.
The mother of two walked away with a trophy, StarTimes 42-inch digital television set and KSh100, 000.
“Zarika has been outstanding throughout in her career. We are humbled to present her this award.
“She is an inspiration to many, especially girls who are eager to take up boxing as a career in the future,” StarTimes Director of Marketing and Public Relations, Japheth Akhulia, said.
SJAK chairman, Chris Mbaisi, said the association ventured into the unique monthly awards to give non-football players a chance to be recognized.
“We are happy that these awards are already inspiring players to work hard to accomplish their aim,” Mbaisi noted.