Zambia: Esther Quits

WOMEN International Boxing Organisation (WIBO) and Women International Boxing Association (WIBA) light welterweight champion, Esther Phiri, has quit boxing.

The Zambian boxing heroine decided to hang up her gloves citing frustrations from the Zambia Professional Boxing and Wrestling Control Board (ZPBWCB), a boxing motherbody that slapped her promoter and trainer, Anthony Mwamba, with a three-month ban.

"It is with a heavy heart that I have reached this decision to retire from active boxing, a sport I love so much.

"But I could not continue because of the many frustrations from the people entrusted to run the affairs of the sport," Esther said in Lusaka yesterday.

"People might think I have lost my senses but this is the best decision to take and I did not even tell my manager whom I know is annoyed with my decision," she added.

Esther said it was embarrassing for a world champion to have her trainer banned from all boxing activities and wondered how the board expected her to train without her instructor.

She said she did not agree with ZPBWCB's decision to impose a 90-day ban on Mwamba.

Esther's view was that the board should have called Mwamba to correct him if he had committed any wrong.

"I was really hurt when I heard that my manager has been banned. It was so embarrassing to me as a world champion.

"How do people around the world say about a champion whose manager has been banned and stripped of his boxing licence? What the BBC should have done was to call for a meeting with Mwamba and guide him accordingly.

"That is why they are there, to protect us and not attacking us every now and then," Esther said.

She said she had no immediate plans but would continue going to the gymnasium for physical fitness purposes only.

Apart from holding the unification belts in WIBA and WIBO, Esther also holds the World Super Lightweight titles in the Women International Boxing Federation (WIBF), Global Boxing Union (GBU), and Global Boxing Council (GBC).

But ZPBWCB general secretary Ben Saili, who distanced the board from Esther's accusations, said the board learnt of her decision to quit the sport with great disappointment.

Saili said he got a telephone call from Esther who promised to hand in a letter informing him of her intention to quit the sport.

He said the board would not make a hasty reaction to the accusations but would follow the rules and regulations before acting on the matter.

Saili said the board only regulated what was written in the ZPBWCB constitution.

He said if the board was to be found violating the constitution it would apologise, but if the action taken on a person was within the constitution it had no reason to apologise.

"We received Esther's decision to quit with disappointment though it is sad that she decided to accuse the board of frustrating her.

"As a board we follow what is stipulated in the constitution and all we do is regulate what is written. If anyone feels frustrated by the board that's their own fault because we are just following what is written in the constitution," Saili said.

He urged Esther to continue contributing to the development of boxing in Zambia because she had gained enough experience by being a double world champion.

"Her resigning from boxing is her personal decision, but what we want to see as a board is her continuing contributing to boxing in Zambia.

"She has a lot of experience and her being a double world champion has made history and it will live on," he said.

And Mwamba said Esther's decision to quit the sport was her own choice, adding that she had his full support.

"Retiring from boxing is Esther's own decision and it is sad. We shall miss her at Exodus because she was one of our best boxers but we shall, if I am given back my licence, continue training other boxers in our stable," he said.

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