5'5½" featherweight Zarika Njeri alias "Fatuma Zarika" was born in
Nairobi, Kenya, on 13 March 1985. She grew up in the sprawling estates of Riruta satellite before she moved to Mathare North
after her mother passed away.
Zarika was raised by parents of modest
means and had to fend for herself from an early age at the Mukuru kwa Njenga
slum in Nairobi's Industrial Area. The turning point for her came when she
watched Laila Ali in action ... the thrill of seeing Ali punch opponents to
submission drove her into boxing
and she started training at Mathare 4A Gym under coach Oksimba.
"I started as an amateur in 2000 after leaving school and enrolled at Mathare
Boxing Club," she said. "However, during that year I fought four times and lost
The following year, Zarika turned professional and was signed up by Kuya, a
former Kenyan international.
On October 12, 2003 in Nairobi she won a four-round decision over Rukken Koronoso of South Africa.
A week later, on October 19, 2003, again in Nairobi she won a four-round decision over
On November 29, 2003 she TKO'd Rukken Koronoso in the
third round of a rematch, dropping Koronoso's record to 1-2.
On December 13, 2003 at Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi,
Conjestina Achieng, also of Nairobi, and Zarika fought to
a four-round draw. Achieng's record was 2-0-2 (0 KO's) after this
On December 20, 2003, again at Nyayo National Stadium, Zarika
TKO'd pro debuter Hawa Daku of Uganda in the final round of a
On April 10, 2004 at Nyayo National Stadium she won a
four-round decision over Agnes Adonga of Uganda, who fell to 1-1 (0
On July 31, 2004 at Nyayo National Stadium, she won a
four-round decision over pro debuter Mary Njeri.
On December 19, 2004 at Nyayo National Stadium, she won a
four-round decision over Jane Kavulani of Kenya who fell to 3-3-1 (0
KO's) with the loss.
On March 25, 2005 at Nyayo National Stadium, she TKO'd Jasmin Kneiss of Germany in the fourth round of a scheduled
six-rounder. Kneiss fell to 2-1 (0 KO's) with this loss.
Zarika's first fight abroad came when she traveled to Aarhus, Denmark to face
former amateur star
Wallberg of Sweden for the WIBF Intercontinental Junior Lightweight title.
The fight took place on June 17, 2005 at the SAS Radisson, and Frida
(130 lbs) won the vacant title with a
unanimous (99-92,99-91,99-91) decision over Zarika (125¼ lbs). According to a
local report, it was a "tough" fight in which Wallberg got the upper hand by using her left jab and
right hook well while Njeri remained dangerous and countered well. Wallberg improved
her pro record to 6-0-0 (1 KO) while Njeri's fell to 5-1-1 (2 KOs) with her
Team Njeri told
WBAN, "Being a bantamweight, she admits it was hard to make
it to super featherweight [junior lightweight], but she tried her best but
lost on points."
On June 18, 2005, WBAN ran a
in which Walberg alleged
that Njeri had "bitten" her on the collarbone twice during their match,
for which we later recognized her as the "Dirtiest Fighter of the
Year" for 2005.
On August 21, 2005 at Moi International Sport Centre in Nairobi, Zarika won a four-round decision over
Esther Phiri of Zambia.
vs. Zarika Njeri in September 2005
© Copyrighted photo taken by Jolly Dee
On September 10, 2005,
in the co-main event at the Fönix Sport Center in Debrecen, Hungary, the
undefeated "Hungarian Box Princess" Dr.
Bettina Csabi (116½ lbs) won a 10-round unanimous
(98-93,98-92,99-94) decision over Zarika to retained
her WIBF-GBU Bantamweight title. According to JollyDee of Hungary, Csabi outpointed Fatuma [Njeri] throughout the bout, and
fight was not remarkable or spectacular. Csábi improved to 25-0-0 (10 KOs)
with the win.
(For more fight photos by JollyDee, see
Photo Gallery #287
on the WBAN Member Site).
Team Njeri said, "She believes the fight was 50-50,
but was given to the home girl."
On November 26, 2005 at Moi International Sport Centre in Nairobi, Zarika
knocked out Agnes Adonga in the fifth round of a scheduled six-rounder, dropping
Adonga's pro record to 1-3.
On May 27, 2006 at the Zenith-Kulturhalle in Munich, Germany,
Ina Menzer (126 lbs) of Mönchengladbach, Germany won
a ten-round majority (97-94,98-93,97-97) decision over Zarika (124 lbs). WBAN correspondent Ewan Whyte described the match as "messy
and inconclusive: neither fighter was ever in any trouble: needless to say, they
gave it to the home fighter ... Menzer." Before her departure for Germany, Zarika had exuded optimism,
saying "I will do my best to make sure I come back with the crown"
and she was the aggressor for most of the bout.
admitted that it was her hardest fight to that point, and that she took a long time to get
into it. Menzer said: "She was a real challenge but I had been
warned and perfectly prepared." Team Njeri said, "She admits the fight
was a bit hard but the decision went against her and
she lost on points." Menzer improved
to 14-0 (7 KO's) with the win
On July 30, 2006, at Byayo National Stadium in Nairobi, Zarika won by a second-round TKO over Monalisa Sibanda
of Zimbabwe. A press release
from JabJab Promotions said: "Kenya’s new
boxing sensation Fatuma Zarika Njeri stopped Zimbabwe’s Monalisa
Sibanda in a non-title fight at Nairobi’s Nyayo Stadium. Many boxing
fans had expected Zarika to lose the bout as Monalisa had impressed
earlier in the year when she stretched Women’s WBF Middleweight
Champion Conjestina Achieng only to lose on points. There were
concerns that since Monalisa had fought at Middleweight against
Conjestina, Zarika had no chance against her even though the
Zimbabwean had shed almost 10 kgs to make the super featherweight
category. Zarika who was largely unknown before the game impressed
piston style blows and surprised the full house when she floored
Sibanda in the first round. Sibanda recovered to finish the round.
However a minute into the second round after a fifty-fifty exchange
between the ladies, Zarika cornered her opponent at the white corner
with a barrage of hard punches. Sibanda went down on her knees and
referee Vedo Okumu stopped the fight."
Sibanda said in a post fight interview, “I am not disheartened by the
loss, boxing is a sport and I lose honourably, it was her day and I
will live to win another day."
Sibanda's record fell to 2-2 (2 KO's) with this loss.
On November 12, 2006 at the Grand Regency Hotel in Nairobi, Zarika won by TKO at 1:42 in the
second round over Pavla Stankeova of the Czech Republic for the WIBF-GBU Bantamweight title
that has been vacated by the retirement of Bettina Csabi. According to our records, Stankeova
fell to 0-6 with this loss, so her selection as a WIBF world title opponent
On December 12, 2006 at the Grand Regency Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, Zarika won a six-round unanimous (60-53,59-54,59-54) decision over Jubjaeng Sor Singsanay
of Thailand who fell to 0-3 with the loss.
On March 3, 2007, the Grand Regency Ballroom in Nairobi, Njeri won a
close but unanimous (98-95,97-94,96-94) decision over
Galina Koleva Ivanova of Bulgaria in a ten-rounder in
which the Kenyan had trouble with her first southpaw
opponent. Ivanova used her reach well, keeping away from Zarika's right while
scoring with well-timed jabs throughout.
By the seventh round, the fight could have gone either way as Njeri
constantly failed to make the fight from inside to counter the
smooth movement of the Bulgarian. However Zarika came on strongly in
the last two rounds to obtain the win on the scorecards. The fight
was aired live on TV, KBC Channel 1. Ivanova fell to 7-5-2 with the
On May 06, 2007, at the Hood Restaurant
in Nairobi, Zarika TKO’d Iliana Boneva of Bulgaria in the seventh round of a
scheduled 10-rounder defending her WIBF bantamweight world title. The local news media reported that the grossly over-matched Boneva’s
corner crew were forced to throw in the towel to
stop Zarika from inflicting further damage while referee Stephen Okumu
had to step in and free Zarika from the
grip of Boneva from time to time. Okumu warned Boneva twice, instructing the judges to
deduct points. Boneva fell to 0-11-1 and has not fought since.
On July 14, 2007 at Moi International Sport Centre, Kasarani,
Kenya, Zarika knocked out Diana Makumbe of Zimbabwe at 1:35 in the first
round of a cheduled six-rounder, dropping Makumbe's record to 1-2 (1
On September 29, 2007 at Club Afrique in Nairobi, Zarika TKO'd Nantongo Mulinde of Uganda in the first round of a scheduled
six-rounder. Mulinde fell to 3-3 (0 KO's) with the loss.
On April 13, 2008 at Club Afrique in Nairobi, Zarika
(127¾ lbs) TKO'd debuter Jamila Uroki (127¾ lbs) of Tanzania at 1:56 in the
first round of a scheduled six-rounder.
On June 21, 2008 at Club Afrique in Nairobi, Zarika
TKO'd debuter Jamhuri Said in the first round of a scheduled six-rounder.
On December 20, 2008 at
Charter Hall in Nairobi, Zarika won a
controversial 10-round unanimous (97-96,97-95,97-94) decision over
of the United States
for the WIBF Super Bantamweight title. Correspondent Edward Sande
told WBAN that "In what appeared a one-sided affair, Kenyan
Fatuma Zarika was shockingly announced as the winner by a unanimous decision
much to the chagrin of Kenyan spectators who instead voiced their dissent by
hoisting America-based Puerto Rican Belinda Laracuente. Laracuente was
carried shoulder high as chants of USA…USA..rent the air even as the belt was
being presented on a farce-like low key affair. Zarika hardly scored against the
graceful and flashy Puerto Rican and her attempt to go for her traditional
volatile kayo was easily smothered by a weaving and bobbing Laracuente."
Laracuente's record fell to
23-24-3 (9 KO's) ... against
many of the world's best women boxers .. while the
23-year-old Njeri's advanced to 20-3-1 (12 KO's).
"Kenyans are yet to see such a talented
female boxer," says trainer Julius Odhiambo, who works with Zarika at
Pal Pal Gym in Pumwani, Nairobi. "She has good footwork, quick jabs and she does not let down her guard.
She is a very intelligent boxer and knows when to feign, when to lunge and
when to unleash that killer punch. Unlike other women boxers at Pal Pal
Gym," Odhiambo adds, "Zarika works out with men and she trades blow
for blow with the likes of David Kiilu, Joseph Miyumo, John Nguru, among
others during sparring sessions."
Her future plans do not include marriage any time soon.
"That is not my priority at the moment. My ultimate goal
is to win a world championship belt and box against renowned fighters before
thinking of settling down with a man," she
(Sources: Team Njeri's biography as sent to WBAN, and our archived
To check out fight reports, complete up-to-date boxing records, with huge digital photos you can go to
the WBAN Records Member Site
Page last updated:
Friday, August 09, 2013