Stephen Muchoki: Kenya’s most successful amateur boxer

Muchoki’s early career

No Kenyan amateur boxer has dominated his weight class at a global level to the extent that Stephen Muchoki did. Born on December 23 1956, Muchoki boxed primarily in the Light Flyweight division. In his heyday was one of the most recognizable sportsmen in Kenya. And this was during a period when the Kenya sporting scene boasted legends like Henry Rono. Muchoki was a product of Nakuru boxing club which produced many of the greatest Kenyan boxers of this period including multiple Olympic champion Philip Waruinge and John Wanjau. He first burst into the limelight in 1974, In February of that year, Muchoki won a gold medal at the Commonwealth games in Christchurch New Zealand. On the way to the gold medal, he beat Roger Richens of Australia, John Bambrick of Scotland and James Odwori of Uganda. Muchoki was only 17 years old at the time ! Muchoki had still not reached his 18th birthday when he won the silver medal at the Inaugural world boxing championships that were held in Cuba. To reach the final, he beat Jose Ibiri of Argentina, Remus Cosma of Romania and Evgeniy Yudin of the USSR. In the final he lost to Jorge Hernandez of Cuba. Still 17 years old, Muchoki won the African championships that were held in Kampala Uganda in November 1974. In the final, he dismissed, Davidson Andeh of Nigeria. Unfortunately for Muchoki, he did not get a chance to showcase his skills at the Olympics as Kenya and 24 other African nations boycotted the Olympics to protest New Zealand's sporting links with apartheid South Africa. Muchoki's name was already on the Olympic program as was the case with other African contestants.

Muchoki becomes world boxing champion

In 1978, Kenya sent a team to the Kings cup in Bangok Thailand. In those days, the Kings cup brought together the world's best boxers. Muchoki reached the final before losing to Armando Guevara of Venezuela. In July of that year, Muchoki was at the 3rd All Africa games in Algiers, Algeria. Muchoki reached the final before losing to Francis Musankabala of Zambia by a split points decision. His next major opportunity to showcase his skills came at the 1978 Commonwealth games. In the quarter-finals, he stopped Joe Dawson of England in round 1. In the semi-finals be outpointed Birender Thapa of India. In the finals he came up against Fancis Musankabala of Zambia who had beaten him a month earlier at the All African games. This time Muchoki exacted revenge, beating the Zambian by unanimous decision to win the gold medal. Muchoki's career defining moment came at the world championships that were held in Belgrade Yugoslavia in May 1978. Muchoki won the gold medal, thus becoming the first Kenyan ever to become a boxing world champion. To win the championship, Muchoki beat Kim Kwang-Sub of Korea 5-0, Sami Buzoli of Yugoslavia 5-0, Armando Guevara of Venezuela 5-0, then in the finals, he beat defending world champion, Jorge Hernandez of Cuba 4-1. The Cuban had beaten him at the same stage four years earlier. It was a huge achievement. Not only did he win all his matches convincingly, but also in the final he beat Hernandez who was the defending world champion and had won the gold medal at the 1976 Olympics less than two years earlier. Cuba was a super-power in boxing. They had won three Olympic gold medals each at the 1972 and 1976 Olympics. Then in 1980 they won six gold medals. Following his exploits in 1978, Muchoki was honoured by President Jomo Kenyatta who awarded him the Order of the burning spear which is one of the highest state commendations awarded in Kenya. Muchoki's amateur career ended with an incredible record of 197 wins and only three losses.

Muchoki’s professional career

In 1979 Muchoki came into contact with professional promoter Mogens Palle, who at that time had been successful with African boxers Ayub Kalule and Mustapha Wasajja. He then turned professional in Denmark. His pro career started brightly : His first bout was on October 11 where he beat Filippo Belvedere(Italy).. He won his first ten fights, including wins over Manuel Carrasco (Spain), Mariano Garcia (Spain), Emilio Pireddu (Italy), Eddie Glencross (Britain), Hong Soo Yang (Korea), Guy Cauldron (France), Vicente Rodriguez (Spain), Ray Amoo (Nigeria), plus a rematch with Manuel Garcia. His win over Amoo which was a round 12 TKO gave him the Commonwealth Flyweight title. Despite his stellar record, Muchoki struggled to gain an audience in Denmark and in 1981, he boxed only once. That was against Manuel Garcia. This lack of fights likely contributed to his loss of motivation. After a brilliant start ,his professional started to slide downwards. On November. 5, 1982 he challenged WBA titlist Santos Laciar from Argentina. The Argentine was vastly experienced having boxed in 64 professional bouts against Muchoki's 10 bouts. The match which was fought in Copenhagen, Denmark, was scheduled for 15 rounds . Muchoki's lack of experience showed and he was retired in round 13 by TKO. Shortly thereafter Muchoki lost to Keith Wallace and his Commonwealth title. The match was scheduled for 15 rounds. Muchoki was retired in the 9th round by TKO. Muchoki then returned to Kenya. He won four bouts over Abbas Athumani, Flywell Botha, James Njoroge and Clement Chacha. His win over Botha gained him the African Boxing Union' title . His next bout was a draw against James Njoroge. He then lost the ABU title 1986 and after losing to Nana Konadu. His last bout was a points loss to Flywell Botha.He hung his gloves in 1988. His professional record was 14 wins (3 by KO), 1 draw and 4 losses.

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3 Responses to Stephen Muchoki: Kenya’s most successful amateur boxer

  1. Jonathan Musere says:

    Good piece of writing about Muchoki. He was quite a short but effecient boxer

  2. Esther wambui says:

    where is stephen muchoki. is he still alive.

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