By NDINAWE SIMPELWE –
ZAMBIA’S first female boxing judge and referee Astridah Mwale has described Catherine Phiri’s triumph as a destiny fulfilled.
Astridah, who is widow of Zambia’s boxing legend, late Lottie Mwale, hailed Catherine for becoming the first African female boxer to win a World Boxing Council (WBC) gold title.
She said Catherine had put a smile on her face because the WBC belt was her late husband’s biggest desire.
“Being the first female boxing judge and referee, I’m so proud and humbled. She has really put a smile on my face. My late husband must be turning in his grave because that’s what he wanted most. His dream has finally been fulfilled by this talented young female boxer,” Astridah said.
Astridah, who is currently in the United States, was expected to meet Catherine and her team at the JFK Airport on their way back to Zambia.
Catherine beat Yazmin “Rusita” Rivas of Mexico after an accidental head butt forced the referee to stop the fight in the sixth round as the Mexican bled on her right eye.
She broke the record of becoming the first African female boxer to win the world gold title.
Former heavyweight boxer Joseph ‘No Pressure’ Chingangu said Catherine has a long and successful career ahead of her.
Chingangu said very few boxers have managed to reach Catherine’s level after a lot of attempts but she managed to grab the WBC belt in a short period of time.
“WBC has real champions. Even the boxer that Catherine beat is a good boxer. That’s why I’m saying this girl will reach far. Even us when we were fighting that’s the belt we wanted. She has really done us and the country proud. I wish her all the best in her career,” Chingangu said.
Veteran sports administrator Haroon Ghumra said Catherine’s win had rekindled memories of Zambia’s great boxing days adding that it was a momentous occasion for professional boxing and sport in general.
Ghumra said everyone involved in the success of Catherine should be commended and encouraged to work even harder.
Zambia Professional Boxing and Wrestling Control Board chairperson Nelson Sapi said the win was a miracle.
“My dear this is a miracle that has happened. This is not a mean achievement. The WBC is the ultimate in professional boxing. That’s what everyone wants to fight for. All the boxers of yesteryears, the Mohamed Ali’s, (Mike) Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Stan Liston, Joe Frazer,were fighting for WBC. These other belts are there but not at the level of WBC, so this is a very big win for Zambia,” Sapi said.
He said Oriental Quarries Boxing Promotions and Catherine were carrying a heavy load going into the fight because Mexico is a hostile place to challenge any boxer.
Sapi said he was already talking to the Sports Minister Vincent Mwale to have the belt handed over to President Edgar Lungu as a gift owing to his support towards sports.