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Zanzibar Boxing: Sixty-Year Ban to End With First Bout

Boxing fans in Zanzibar are set to enjoy the first fight in almost six decades on Sunday after a long-standing ban was lifted.

The 1960s ban followed the revolution by the island’s first President Abedi Amani Karume, citing cultural reasons.

The event aligns with current President Hussein Mwinyi’s strategic push to promote tourism and sports development.

Zanzibar’s Hamis Muay Thai will face Ibrahim Mjender in the historic eight-round non-title lightweight fight.

Hamis Muay Thai, who began his fighting career with a lot of success as a kickboxer, will be making his debut in the ring as a boxer.

Another local boy Musa Nassor “Banja” is also on the bill. He will trade fists with Dullah Mbabe from the mainland, while Karim Mandonga, a charismatic Tanzanian boxer will square up with Osman Muller Junior from Zanzibar in another bout.

There will be a total of eight boxing matches in all.

As the revolution of January 1964 ended the rule of the Sultan of Zanzibar and his majority Arab government, people close to then President Karume say he viewed boxing as “inhumane” arguing that fighting was for animals.

The ban, however, did not affect Tanzania’s mainland.

Tanganyika and Zanzibar were united in April 1964 to form what is now the United Republic of Tanzania.

Results of six-month research conducted in 2021 suggested that just over 60% of the population in Zanzibar were in favour of the return of boxing.

Zanzibar is trying to open its doors to the world to attract more foreign investors and tourists. Current President Mwinyi’s Blue Economy policy includes an emphasis on tourism and sport.

Recently, British female boxer Natasha Jones was named honorary ambassador for Zanzibar in sport tourism.

“It’s a great honour and I will do the best that I can for the people of Zanzibar to represent them in a good way but also promote everything that they have already,” said Jones, the champion boxer.

All the boxers have been paid their participation fee, although there will not be any prize money.

The milestone event will take place at the Mao Tse Tung Stadium on Sunday and will be broadcast live on TV.

Halka Ahmed a young content creator said he is very excited.

“This will work well with my fellow young people who really want to become professional boxers in Zanzibar”.

Many other locals are also looking forward to the revival of boxing in Zanzibar.

“This is an historic move,” said Sandaland Omari, a sports-shop owner.

Source : BBC