Esther and Goliath

Sara Drawwater
6 June 2010

Esther Phiri — new WIBA world welterweight champion

Whoever said women were the weaker sex certainly had never met Esther Phiri! At first glance the 26 year old Zambian lightweight boxer would pass for the kind of woman you might push past in a queue at any grocery store here in Lusaka. But one killer blow from her fist would probably leave you calling up your insurance for a new set of teeth.

Though I am not one for violence, I have found myself following this young woman’s career with interest and, along with many other Zambians, I have watched with a growing sense of pride as she has picked up one title after the other, fearlessly facing several world champion lightweight boxers.

But I must admit that despite her glowing resume I was very doubtful she would make it past the first round as I sat down last weekend to watch on TV the highly anticipated match against Duda Yankovich, the defending champion of the Women International Boxing Association (WIBA) world welterweight title. Though I was nowhere near the Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka where the match took place, I found myself breaking out in a cold sweat as I watched the huge and very fearsome looking Duda Yankovich jump around in her corner as she waited for the formalities to be over with. I comforted myself by thinking of one of my favourite Bible stories of David and Goliath. But the thought that Esther had no slingshot to take down this giant got me back to biting my nails.

After the first three rounds though, I found myself screaming wildly in support of Esther as she skilfully landed one well-aimed punch after the other. I worried the friends I was with as along with Esther I dodged Duda’s equally deadly punches. 10 gruelling rounds later, amid loud congratulatory cheers from the excited crowd of spectators, Esther Phiri was unanimously declared the new WIBA welterweight champion! See the match on You Tube courtesy The Post Online.

Esther is already the Women’s International Boxing Federation (WIBF) featherweight world champion, and the Global Boxing Union (GBU) lightweight title holder. She has indeed become one of the most successful Zambian career women, helping to put Zambia on the world map.

If I see her in that grocery queue in Lusaka, you definitely won’t hear any protests if she steps ahead of me in the line — not until I get my teeth insurance sorted out at least!

Posted by Nambeye Katebe