8 February 2013

Namibia: Ambunda's World Title Dream Nears Reality

PAULUS 'The Rock' Ambunda wanted to become a big-time footballer and was on course to realising his goal before seeing Harry Simon capture the WBO light-middleweight world title in 1998.

From that moment on, Ambunda has dreamt of emulating his idol's achievement.

The 32-year-old has spent the last four months training intensively twice a day as he prepares for a first world title fight against Thai Pungluang Sor Singyu in Windhoek on March 2.

He will attempt to become only the third Namibian to hold a world boxing title after Simon and former WBA lightweight world champion Paulus 'The Himan' Moses.

"In my heart, I have always wanted to be a world champion. That's why I joined boxing," says the soft-spoken fighter.

"I'm grateful to God for giving me this opportunity. I have looked forward to this day for a long time. I know what I have to do and I know I can do it."

Ambunda has won all 19 of his fights since turning professional in 2007, knocking out ten of his rivals along the way.

His displays, coupled with a friendly demeanour and unparalleled modesty beyond the ring, have won him legions of admirers down the years .

"Without my supporters, I am nothing. They put me here. I always try to make them happy and to make my country proud," he says.

Promoter and trainer Nestor Tobias has tracked Ambunda since his early amateur days describes him as "a fun guy" and a consummate professional.

"People enjoy his company. He likes to joke around but he also knows where to draw the line and become serious. He's very disciplined and a hard worker you can see that from what he has achieved so far. You don't get where he is if you are not focused and committed," says Tobias.

The fighter believes that without Tobias's guidance, he would not have been able reach his current status in world boxing.

Ambunda is Namibia's reigning Sportsman of the Year, an honour he's achieved twice. He's also the World Boxing Organisation's African Boxer of the Year for 2012, another accolade he's earned twice in his career.

"To me, he's like a father. He's always there when you need him. He's also a good coach and has been advising and supporting me since I was an amateur boxer," says the former WBO Africa bantamweight title holder.


Before trading in his football boots for boxing gloves, Ambunda was a plucky attacking midfielder and fondly recalls his duels with African Stars left-back Freedom Puriza and midfielder Stanley Kwambi of Hotspurs.

"I played for Tisan while still at Ella Du Plessis High School. I think I was 17 years old. I love soccer and I still watch it a lot," he says.

But buoyed by the buzz surrounding former two-time world middleweight champion Simon, the ambitious 17-year-old felt that his future lay in the rigours of the boxing ring and not on the greens of a football arena.

"I already managed to play nationally so it was time to do something else and see how far I could go. I felt that I have a better chance of becoming a world champion through boxing than soccer," Ambunda says.

Tobias believes the only obstacle to 'The Rock' etching his name in the history books of the sport is himself.

"When you work so hard for so long, there's only one way out and that's to win. We are just positive about winning so we will go out there and do good and make the nation proud," Tobias says.

"He's already a silver, all he needs now is to become gold."

Ambunda's quest for world domination requires getting the better of an opponent who is not only significantly much younger, but also has an advantage in ring experience.

For a 24 year-old, Pungluang has an impressive 43 wins and a solitary defeat to his name, but that is academic, Ambunda says.

"His record doesn't bother me. He only beat his opponents on that side and he never fought me. As soon as he comes down here and we square up he will see who's the king. So the record to me doesn't mean anything. It just means that he started earlier than me but it doesn't mean that he is a better boxer than me," the title hopeful says.

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