Putting in my best has made me the person I am today – Catherine Phiri

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ON JANUARY 30, 2016, Zambia’s Catherine Phiri engraved her name in the boxing history books by becoming the first African boxer to ever win a World Boxing Council (WBC) title championship.

She beat Mexico’s Yazmin Rivas, subsequently dethroning her as WBC Female Bantamweight Gold Champion right in the Mexican’s backyard.

The new champion then carried on with her winning ways as she knocked out South Africa’s Gabisile Tshabalala in a fight at the Government Complex in Lusaka on 27 August 2016.

Her humble background as a school dropout made Catherine’s story a compelling one as her achievements in the ring sprang her to international fame.

A second-born in a family of six and the third of four sisters, Catherine turned to armature boxing after flanking her Grade 9 examinations in 2009.

“After failing to go to grade 10, I decided to choose boxing over school,” she recalls.

Soon after, Catherine went professional and victories started to come her way. In 2012, she became the World Professional Boxing Federation (WPBF) champion.

On the advice of her manager Chris Malunga, then aged 21 in 2013, Catherine resumed school from where she left off.

“In 2013 I went back to school at Namununga School because Mr Malunga encouraged me. He said it did not matter how old I was as long as long as I was determined to achieve achieve my dream,” she recollects.

After making it to Grade 10 and learning another two years at Namununga School, Catherine was awarded scholarship to learn at Lusaka’s Great North Academy by owned Dr Rozias Siatwambo.

It is in her last year of secondary school that Catherine won the WBC Female Bantamweight Championship but says, “it was not easy”.

“It wasn’t an easy thing for me to do, it was challenging because I was serving two masters at the same time. But for me to become a victor both academically and career-wise which I did, I had to put in all I had and of course it was my very best. And this is how I became the person I am today,” Catherine explains.

Sadly, Catherine lost her WBC World female bantamweight title to Mexican Mariana Trejo in Mexico City on split points decision on April 2, 2017.

Since then, she has been trying to win it back and in pursuit of the title, Catherine has lost twice to Kenya’s Fatuma Zarika although many of her supporters felt she was robbed of victory in the last fight against the East African.

The 27-year-old Catherine is now preparing to travel to Mexico where she will face that country’s Yamileth Mercado for the WBC Super Bantamweight gold after Oriental Quarries Boxing Promotions failed to stage the fight blaming it on technical reasons.

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