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Zarika (Fatuma) Njeri
 
   

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 only once."

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 Ester Herkole.

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, undefeated 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 bout.

On December 20, 2003, again at Nyayo National Stadium, Zarika TKO'd pro debuter Hawa Daku of Uganda in the final round of a four-rounder.

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 KO's).

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.

Wallberg vs NjeriZarika's first fight abroad came when she traveled to Aarhus, Denmark to face former amateur star Frida 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 first loss 

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 story 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.


Bettina Csabi 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 the 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.   Ina Menzer 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 with her 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 seems bizarre.

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 loss

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 KO).

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 Belinda Laracuente 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 said.

(Sources: Team Njeri's biography as sent to WBAN, and our archived fight reports)

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

 
     
     
     
     
 

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