When she made the decision to cross over to the paid ranks after years of being an amateur boxer, she did so with a sober mind and precision. She knew the work ahead of her was not going to be easy but was determined to succeed nevertheless.
And when she took to the ring in her first match as a professional boxer, former national middleweight champion Elizabeth Akinyi was ready to give it her all to ensure she won her first bout. Akinyi was lucky she was going to fight at home and against an equally new opponent in the professional ranks.
She was facing Lucy Macho of Tanzania in a middleweight non-title fight at Nyayo National Stadium last weekend. The match was one of the curtain raisers of the World Alliance Boxing Association (WABA) – Africa Super Middleweight title fight pitting former Africa Boxing Union super middleweight champion Rayton ‘Boom Boom’ Okwiri against Chikonde Makawa of Malawi.
Okwiri won the title to enhance his dream of winning a world title fight before he hung his gloves.
A good account of herself
In the four-round match, Akinyi gave a good account of herself from the first to the last bell before the judges gave her the thumbs-up on her debut in the professional ranks.
“It was a tough match but I’m happy I came out victorious against the Tanzanian, who is equally a tough opponent. It’s through the Almighty God’s grace that saw me through to the end,” Akinyi told The Nairobian Sports in a post-match interview.
“It was not easy for me to come up with the decision to play this match at a time when my mother was equally sick in hospital. But my joy is that I came out victorious,” she added.
By joining the ranks, Akinyi is ready to follow in the path of her compatriots Conjestina Achieng’, Fatuma Zarika, and Sarah Achieng’ who are the only three female Kenyan professional boxers to have won world titles.
“I’m taking one match at a time and a step at a time in this journey and my desire is to see myself getting to the ranks of my compatriots who won world titles at their time in this game,” said Akinyi who is a fitness instructor.
Asked how she navigated through the match against the rather experienced Tanzanian, she said: “I started the match well in the first two rounds but at some point, I lost steam and pressure was on me to regain control of the last two rounds to assure my home fans I was in control. I’m happy all worked in my favor to become victorious”.
She won the match on a unanimous points decision to take her record to one victory from one match. Winning the match came at a time when Akinyi had skipped a number of training sessions owing to a number of factors.
It is the reason she was not selected for the national team that featured in the World Women's Boxing Championships in New Delhi, India in April. Akinyi has been a member of the National Women’s Boxing Team for the past decade and her decision to turn professional came at a time when Commonwealth super lightweight champion Sarah Achieng’ won a world title.
Achieng’ is the World Boxing Foundation (WBF) super lightweight champion. She outpointed former World Boxing Council super-bantamweight champion Matthysse Edith Soledad of Argentina in a 10-round fight at Charter Hall in Nairobi on June 10.
In winning her first professional bout, Akinyi banked her performance on her initial experience as an amateur boxer serving the national team that allowed her to feature in Africa Zone Three Boxing Championships, Africa Boxing Championships, All Africa Games, Commonwealth Games, and World Women Boxing Championships for the past decade.
“This experience assisted me to beat Macho and I believe from now henceforth, I’ll be approaching each match as a professional boxer as I brace to win more matches,” she said.
Akinyi said she was ready for more professional matches.