Amina Martha's Olympic dream deferred but her inspirational story shines bright


BOXING Amina Martha's Olympic dream deferred but her inspirational story shines bright

Festus Chuma 14:45 - 12.09.2023

Amina Martha's journey from adversity in Kenya to Dakar's Olympic qualifiers ends in heartbreak against champion Haghighat-Joo.

On Sunday, as the boxing ring in Dakar, Senegal came alive with the excitement of the Africa Olympic Qualifiers, Amina Martha stood out from the crowd. 

At 30 years of age, this Kenyan bantamweight contender was not just fighting for a spot in the Olympics; she was fighting against a tumultuous past, seeking redemption.

Born in a rural pocket of the Nyanza region, Martha's journey to this international platform is nothing short of inspirational. 

As a child, she displayed exceptional athletic prowess, shining in sprints and horizontal jump events. However, her feet's magic with a football truly distinguished her, as she led her school team as a formidable captain.

Yet, amidst these glittering achievements, a dark cloud of domestic trauma overshadowed her youth. 

The place she called home, which should have been her refuge, transformed into a theater of nightmares. 

The scars from her father’s abusive actions, both towards her and her mother, became a tragic part of her childhood narrative.

“I had a rough life. My life was so violent. I grew up seeing my mum being beaten and abused constantly…by my dad. My siblings and I were not spared either, he would beat us up all the time,” Martha recalled with palpable emotion in an interview with Olympics channel.

A turning point came when her mother finally left the oppressive environment, ensuring safety for Martha and her siblings. However, this respite marked the beginning of another set of challenges. With no steady income, every day was a battle for survival.

Embodying determination, young Martha took up responsibilities, balancing household chores for others while staying committed to her education. 

“While in high school, I worked as a house help just to get money to supplement her (mother's) income. I'd wake up very early in the morning, go to work, get back home, and get ready for school, and in the evening as well,” she recalled.

Against the odds, she made it to a university in Nairobi, on a government bursary, working myriad part-time jobs. She chose journalism, but her past specters were not done with her.

Boxing became her refuge. Every punch she unleashed was a rebellion against her traumatic past, and each round she lasted echoed her life's struggles. More than just fighting in a ring, Martha was wrestling to reclaim her life.

As she squared off with 19 other women in Dakar, all aiming for the Paris 2024 Olympics, Martha's resolve was unmistakable.

"For me, boxing was about conquering myself first. Making the national team? That was a dream. But the Olympics, that's my Everest," her conviction was undeniable.

However, in the unforgiving world of sports, even the most heartfelt dreams sometimes face insurmountable odds. Sierra Leone's 2022 Africa champion, Sara Haghighat-Joo, proved to be an insurmountable obstacle on this day. Martha's Olympic aspirations were snuffed out on unanimous points.

With eleven Paris 2024 tickets in contention, every fighter there was a force to reckon with. Yet, for Martha, this fight was more than just a shot at the Olympics. It was her life's testament.

While her dreams may have suffered a setback in Dakar, Martha's journey remains a shining testament to human perseverance.