The 'Kunene Beast' has gone to rest. Often going by the nickname of 'Giddies', former Hungry Lions and Robber Chanties FC bursting forward Gideon Gurirab is the latest victim of the devastating Covid-19 pandemic. The big-framed, multi-talented athlete-cum-farmer-turned-legal mind lost a brave battle against the merciless virus in a Windhoek hospital last week. His death follows short on the heels of former teammates Hans Boois and Berries Jagger.
In today's edition of your favourite weekly sport feature, Tales of the Legends, profiling our sport legends past and present, New Era Sport in the same vein also pays tribute to unheralded boxing legend Abiud Uamunika Kasiringua and retired Life Fighters FC attacker Rikua 'Richman' Kahorongo. May their combined souls rest in eternal peace.
Gideon 'Giddies' Gurirab
The Namibian sport fraternity has not only lost a committed cadre, the nation has been deprived of an astute educator, athlete and legal mind in the shape of Gideon Gurirab, famously going by the nickname of 'Giddies'. A mean puncher, the big-framed boy is a proud product of the revered Cornelius Goreseb High School in Uis, located in the great Kunene region. It was indeed in the mining village town where Giddies mastered the trade of exchanging blows in the boxing ring.
Apart from boxing, the versatile athlete was equally home on the athletics track, excelling in the short sprints, and as if this was not enough, he was a serial goal scorer for the school's football team. His next stop was the city of bright lights (Windhoek), in hot pursuit of a Teachers Diploma at the Khomasdal Teachers Academy in the mid-80's.
He marshalled the frontline of the College's football team. It was indeed during a mini-knockout cup tourney at the old natives' compound sport field near Katutura that Giddies was spotted by ambitious Katutura outfit Hungry Lions FC, and as they say, the rest is history.
He joined the 'Brave Lions of Judah', together with fellow student schoolteachers, the quartet of Dr Mike Ochurub, Jomo Gallant, Nico Ankama and agile shot- stopper Ephraim Dawids, to bolster an already smooth- running locomotive of the maroon & and white-striped outfit. After some outstanding performances with the Brave Lions of Judah, Giddies retreated to his native town Khorixas, and joined forces with boyhood team Robber Chanties.
He formed a telepathic partnership with the equally dangerous !Haosemab twins Peter and Paul in the gold and navy-stripped side's firing line. A self-made businessman and solid political activist, Giddies dedicated his entire life to the welfare of his immediate community, always putting his body on the line for the wellbeing of his compatriots. He was also the deputy chairman of the Namibian Kickboxing Federation.
"I will certainly miss our marathon chats and legal debates. Real friends with capacity to dialogue without emotions are a numeral rarity....you are an intellectual giant produced by humble beginnings in the dusty streets of Khorixas. Courageous Son of the Welwitschia, your gallantry will continue to inspire some of us to speak without fear. You taught me good music, and to enjoy life without giving excuses to judgement by society.
"A free-spirited giant, in your presence, I always felt protected because your tongue was sharp and frank whilst your blow was merciless and precise. You served the community with excellence at every task assigned to you. Tenacious Giddies. Where did you give up in this fight to live and make a difference? Who was stronger than you to defeat you in sickness?" tweeted one of Giddies' trusted comrades during the struggle for Namibia's liberation, Habate Doeses.
Abiud Uamunika Kasiringua
Unlike in the modern era where young boys are exposed to all types of activities, be it cool or bad, good or otherwise, the elderly folk from Windhoek's Old Location made it their sole task to discipline children indulging in any unacceptable behaviour. There was just no space for 'Tsotsies' within the rank and file of the close-knit society of the Herero-speaking tribe, in the days of yeah and nay when children were obliged by traditional morals to stay on the straight and narrow.
The only possible way out was to chase an inflated piece of leather, or trade leather in the boxing ring. With recreational facilities a rare commodity, aspiring boxers were made to spare in makeshift, poorly-lit corrugated iron gyms.
In the mid-60's, there was a mushrooming of highly-gifted amateur boxers entering the fray. Interestingly, this sudden interest coincided with the emergence of African-American professional boxers in the mould of Cassius Clay (Mohammed Ali), Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier and a few others.
Local boxers were all out to emulate their international heroes, and started trading leather in organised structures. Doing so required matchmakers of note, and this is where the name of Abiud Kasiringua springs to mind. The athletically-built middleweight boxer-cum-matchmaker was the first truly recognised boxing promoter in Apartheid South West Africa (SWA), back in the day. Though he was living in Otjiwarongo, Abiud hit the ground running, and became an instant hit amongst his peers and boxing fans alike.
He was also very popular with pretty-faced lasses. Some of the celebrated leather traders who went through his golden hands were Eazy 'Brown Bomber' Ngangura Tjahikika, Cephas Nderura, Erastus Nganjone, Levy Komomungondo, Ferende 'Reiny Touch' Tjitemisa, Hijaviposa Kauejao, Katuiisa Rukero, Kandjoine Kambirongo, Levy Hijamutiti, Uzera Ngavirue, Ambrossius Hihatjikunga Kandjii, Jephta Tjirimuje, Kavetjimo Katuuo, Hauanga 'Voete' Komeheke, Ndundu Danny Ketjiperue, Tjivande Eben 'Griffiths' Kahimise, Kovaanua Karuaihe, Gabes Tjitemisa, Nguramene Kazapua and Kupaha 'Clay' Ngueihita.
A pair of boxing stables was hastily established; Tiger Kid, operating from the Ovambanderu section under the shrewd stewardship of Komomungondo, whilst the Ovaherero section boasted ABC under the watch of Kambirongo.
In later years, promising boxers led by Kuzeeko Kangueehi, Heinrich 'Gol' Schroeder, Simeon 'Kid Cassius' Tjipura, Joseph 'Joe Archer' Shikongo all joined the fray. Most of the bouts were contested at the Gloria Beer Hall for natives and the Katutura Community Hall, sometimes stretching to other towns in the following sequence: Okahandja, Tsumeb, Walvis Bay and Otjiwarongo.
In the interim, native boxers managed to wangle their way around the much-despised racial segregation Act, cunningly tip-toeing across the red colour line for sparring sessions against their more technically equipped white counterparts, which included the iconic Jan Leff at the old Talpark Hall in town.
Sadly, the wide-awake 'Bowker Boys' (law-enforcers) got wind of the black men's unwanted invasion in the sacred territory and put shoulder to the wheel, delivering a Technical Knockout (TKO) outside the ring. After all, darkies were strictly prohibited from being visible in the city after darkness had set in.
When the forced removal from Windhoek's Old Location was effected in 1968, more young boxers emerged in the shape of Ernst 'Buster Mathis' Tjeriko, Joe Murangi, George Mukuahima, Katjaeta Veseevete, Turi Kavari, Joe Hambira, Simon 'Lefty' Katuru, Uateza Dave 'Barry' Veseevete, Stanley Kozonguizi, Ellison Kauejao, Fanuel Tjingaete, Hijandama Tjahikika, Tjizoozu Karumendu, Ellis Veseevete, Uararere Tjirare, Joe Mazeingo, Samuel Matroos, Dick Kuveza, Anton 'Clive' Tjizake, Vekuii Rukoro, Ben Awarab and many others also came on board, succeeding the ageing old guard.
Despite getting a bit long in the tooth, the hard-punching middleweight boxer with the Midas touch would go on to become a successful commercial farmer until his untimely departure from Mother Earth. Abiud was laid to rest at Ongongoro village in the vastly populated Otjozondjupa region last Sunday. May his gentle soul rest in power.
Rikua 'Richman' Kahorongo
Forgotten Life Fighters FC attacking midfielder Rikua Kahorongo has fallen victim to the devastating Covid-19 pandemic. The bow-legged attacking midfielder was the mainstay of Kahirona's engineroom during the early 70's. A one-club man, 'Richman' spent his entire playing career with Kahirona until his premature retirement. He was the chief architect, feeding the dangerous firing line of Kaputji Kuhanga, Kanomora 'Number' Ngavetene, Tepa Muriua, Marques Kamuserandu, George Kasuto and 'Captain Fantastic' Alphews 'Jayzz' Mbakera.
Some of his celebrated teammates were Pottie Mbarandongo, Seadog Kuhanga, Rudi Tjaverua, Alphons Tjikoriho Njembo, Lucly Kuhanga, Skelly Kavetuna, Kalokie Muriua and elder brother Abe Katire. Sadly, the highly-gifted box-to-box midfield general fell victim of society, completely disappearing from the game whilst still at the pinnacle of an otherwise flourishing football career. Nonetheless, Bro 'Richman' will go down in history as one of the greatest footies to have ever donned the gorgeous purple & foam strip of 'Kahirona'.