Catherine arrives without WBC belt

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HUNDREDS of Zambians yesterday thronged Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka to welcome World Boxing Council (WBC) bantamweight champion Catherine Phiri, who arrived without the belt.
The actual gold belt has been put in a special case and will be shipped to Lusaka through the Zambian Embassy in Washington, United States of America.
Catherine, flanked by her trainer Mike Zulu and manager Christopher Malunga, arrived at 12:20 hours to a thunderous welcome from Mexico aboard a South African Airways flight.
She outclassed Mexican Yazmin Rivas in Tijuana on Sunday to become the first WBC female champion from Africa.
“It was not an easy journey for me to defeat the champion at her home ground but because of the support I received from everyone, I did it,” an excited Catherine said.
On hand to welcome Catherine were her parents, officials from the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Child Development, National Sports Council of Zambia chairperson Mwamba Kalenga, women boxing pioneer Esther Phiri and her trainer Anthony Mwamba, pupils from Great North Academy and fans led by Zambia Sports Fans Association patron Peter Makembo.
“Thank you very much to the Zambian fans, Government and the champion [Esther Phiri]. She has been my inspiration through and through,” Catherine said.
Catherine’s parents could not hide their emotions with her mother Fatima admitting she was overwhelmed by the news that her daughter had broken the record.
“I was sick on the day of the fight because I didn’t have a chance to watch and after I got the result, I was overwhelmed with joy that I even failed to stand. My legs were numb, it took me a good five minutes to regain my strength. I thought she would be intimidated fighting in a foreign country but she stood strong,” Fatima said.
She thanked Oriental Quarries for the support and encouraged Catherine to remain humble and concentrate on her education.
Catherine is in Grade 11 at Great North Academy.
And Malunga said Rivas avoided a technical knock-out when she told the ring doctors that she could not continue with the fight after sustaining a cut on her right eye.
“When she had a cut, they ruled that there was an accidental head butt and deducted points from Catherine but after a replay, they found that she was just hit with a punch and the points were given back,” he said.
Malunga said Catherine was given a recognition belt as she awaits the actual belt.
Zambia Professional Boxing and Wrestling Board of Control secretary John Shipanuka said the WBC is the only title that has gone to space and that Catherine has taken Zambia to that level.

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