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It’s good sporting 2014

CATHERINE Phiri is declared winner after defeating Bukiwe Nonina at Government Complex in Lusaka on Saturday. PICTURE: CHANDA MWENYA

IT has generally been a year of success for sport in Zambia. Most sports were in the limelight for the right reasons as the curtains close on 2014. Many sportsmen, sportswomen and administrators will look at the year with satisfaction although a lot needs to be done.
The Daily Mail Sports today starts a three-part series to reflect on these highlights. To get the ball rolling, ELIZABETH CHATUVELA reviews events in boxing and netball.
BOXING has over the years continued to rank among the most consistent sports disciplines in the country.
The sport, like in the past, scored great strides in 2014 both in the amateur and professional ranks to maintain its status as one of the biggest sports disciplines in Zambia.
The Zambia Boxing Federation (ZBF) had a challenge to raise money to send boxers for a number of tournaments.
This forced the association to restrict its boxers to government-sponsored tournaments that include the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, Africa Olympic Youth Championship in Botswana and the Africa Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Under-20 Games held in Zimbabwe.
In Scotland, light welterweight boxer Ben Muziyo won a bronze medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games held from July 22 to August 3 in Scotland.
Muziyo automatically picked a medal by virtue of him reaching the semi-finals, but failed to progress to the finals.
The bronze medal was one of the two medals that Zambia reaped at the Glasgow Games.
Judoka Boas Munyonga also won bronze for Zambia in the 88 kilogrammes category.
In Botswana, ZBF was represented by five boxers: female bantamweight Linah Kasweka, female lightweight Julian Kasonka, flyweight Alfred Muwowo, bantamweight Timothy Chiyesu,  and lightweight Nkumbu Silungwe
Kasonka and Kasweka minted silver, Muwowo won bronze while Silungwe and Chiyesu failed to win any medal.
And at the Region 5 Games in Bulawayo, Zambia won two gold, one silver and one bronze.
Chiyesu and Silungwe minted gold while bantamweight Emmanuel Phiri and flyweight Rabson Tembo won silver and bronze, respectively.
ZBF president Thomas Chileshe says he is satisfied with the boxers’ performance at regional level.
Chileshe, however, admitted that much needs to be done for the boxers to excel at continental level.
“I guess there is much that needs to be done for us to start dominating at continental level. It seems we are only good in the region,” Chileshe said.
At professional level, Zambia managed to stage a World Boxing Council (WBC) women’s title for the first time, while boxing icon Esther Phiri also returned to the ring.
In March, Oriental Quarries Boxing Promotion (OQBP) staged two WBC title fights involving Catherine Phiri and Zimbabwean welterweight Charles Manyuchi.
The two, who also hold the Africa Boxing Union (ABU) titles, managed to grab the belts at first attempt.
Catherine knocked out Filipino boxer Pia Mazelanik to win the WBC silver bantamweight title at Lusaka’s Government Complex while Manyuchi outclassed Patrick Allotey of Ghana to grab the WBC international welterweight title.
Seven months later Catherine defended the WBC title against Bukiwe Nonina of South Africa at Government Complex, to pocket K50,000 purse money.
Catherine knocked out Bukiwe in the second round of their scheduled 10-round bout after the South African threw in the towel.
Bukiwe’s decision sparked controversy with critics calling on OQBP to bring quality boxers to fight Catherine.
On the same bill, Manyuchi equally retained his title after he knocked out Davis Caceres of Colombia.
On Esther, the former World International Boxing Association (WIBA) world champion announced her return in March.
However, her come-back fight which was initially set for June was postponed twice before it finally took place on December 20, when she fought Evelyn Odoro of Kenya.
The fight held at Chez Ntemba VIP marked the return of the ‘Killer Bee ‘who was out of action for two years.
During the fight, Esther exhibited high levels of fitness and also showed great skills.
She won the eight-round non-title international fight on unanimous point decision.
“This marks my return and I will work hard to be where I was before,” she said.
And away from the ring, boxer Bazila Ngosa was briefly banned for life by the Zambia Professional Boxing and Wrestling Control Board for gross misconduct.
Ngosa was punished after he allegedly attacked referee Maybin Kante during an international tournament staged by Mwenya Musenge Boxing Promotions in July at Arthur Davies Stadium in Kitwe.
The boxer was later pardoned by Minister of Youth and Sport Chishimba Kambwili after he made a public apology.
Netball this year recorded a major milestone when the senior national team qualified for the 2015 World Cup in Sydney, Australia.
The netball national team, which is ranked fifth in Africa, managed to earn a place at the prestigious tournament after finishing runners-up to Uganda at the 2014 Africa Championship that Botswana hosted in September.
The World Netball Championship will be held from August 7-16.
Other teams that have qualified for the Netball World Cup are New Zealand, England, Jamaica, Malawi, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Samoa and Wales.
The rest are Scotland, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Fiji, Uganda, Singapore and hosts Australia.
Netball Association of Zambia (NAZ) general secretary Prichard Ngoma said the qualification could not have been possible without the support from affiliates and UK Sport.
“Qualification to the World Netball Championships would not have been possible without your support. Our strategic plan, the vision and the many hours put in coaching and educating officials are what bore us these fruits. Let’s focus on phase two, and that is making sure that we go and compete,” he said.

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