“I want to leave a memorable legacy in my amateur career and the best place to end it is in Gold Coast, Australia,” says Kenya’s light heavyweight boxer Nick Abaka.”
But will the 38-year–old Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) Corporal fire the final salvo and be crowned the king of light heavyweight at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia?
Abaka, nicknamed “The King” by veteran boxing coach Musa Benjamin due to the boxer’s impressive skill. The coach is confident Abaka will return home with a medal as the boxer steps up training at Nakuru Armateur Boxing Club, popularly known as ‘Madison Square Garden Gymnasium’ in Nakuru ahead of next month’s Commonwealth Games in Australia.
“I know this will be my last bullet on the frontline and as a soldier I believe Gold Coast would be my final target as I want to crown my career by winning a gold medal for Kenya,” said Abaka.
Abaka’s father Permus Abaka was middleweight boxer at Nakuru Armateur Boxing Club. The young Abaka started boxing at pin weight in 1990 at Kariobangi Estate in Nairobi at the age of 10 under the tutelage of veteran coach the late Eddy “Papa” Musi.
He then linked up with KDF head coach Sammy Magima who helped him discover his strength and weaknesses.
“I’m like a gold going through fire. I think I’m now ready for my opponent in Australia,” said Abaka.
Abaka who turned out for the defunct Kenya Posts and Telecommunication Corporation (KPTC) alongside Valdez Ochieng’ and Steve Gacheru, among others, will be making a second appearance at the Club Games, having represented Kenya in 2014 edition in Glasgow, Scotland.
“Glasgow was an eye-opener. I reached quarterfinals. This time I want to move a ladder higher and reach the finals,” said the father of two boys.
Abaka is happy with KDF’s role in shaping his final boxing career, saying he is ready for the games. “My prayer is that I don’t pick any injuries at the residential camp ahead of the Commonwealth Games,” said Abaka.
He reckons last season’s National Boxing League matches where he met his arch rival Elly Ajowi of Kenya Police four times, winning twice, helped him prepare for big fights.
“Ajowi is a smart and powerful boxer who made me spend sleepless nights working out a formula to beat him,” says Abaka, a former student of Our Lady of Fatma Secondary school in Nairobi.
Owing to the stiff rivalry between the two boxers, Ajowi moved to heavyweight, leaving Abaka to reign supreme in the light heavyweight.
He said the experience he gained during India’s inaugural International Open Boxing tournament will come handy for him in Australia.
“Although I did not win a medal in India, I returned home with many valuable lessons. I am working out to sharpen my skills,” said Abaka who is a great admirer of Flyod Mayweather and Kenya’s former welterweight boxer Absalom “Diblo” Okinyi. Abaka also counts Rayton Okwiri as among the worthy opponents he has fought.
The towering soldier says his main strength is speed, coupled with support from his wife Veronica Nyawira, his two sons and his parents Permus and Frida who are his main source of inspiration in boxing.
He took part in Amateur Professional Boxing fights under AIBA.