•In 2016, she again got the chance to compete at the Africa Olympics qualifiers in Cameroon where she won her first bout but went on to miss out on qualification after her Nigerian opponent secured the berth on split decision.
•So determined was she that during the Africa Olympics qualifiers in Dakar, Senegal, she fought her way to an Olympic qualification berth after flooring her Ugandan opponent.
Hit Squad flyweight pugilist Christine Ongare says she is determined to curve the path for the next generation of Kenyan female boxers by scooping a gold medal in Tokyo.
Popularly known as ‘Mamushka’, the 28-year-old pugilist, who weighs 51 kg, believes it is her moment to finally reap from her relentless years of hard work.
“I want to show the current crop of budding boxers that a girl born and raised in Nairobi’s Eastlands can also bask in international glory. Everything is possible as long as you set your mind to it,” she said.
Ongare said a nasty black eye she suffered during her maiden international boxing tournament in China 11 years ago is what has propelled her to her current form.
“I was still young and naive, both in age and boxing. You can imagine having only fought in the local novice tournaments and then being picked to represent the country in the World Women's Championships in China before even having a chance to test your mettle in Africa,” observed Ongare.
“It was also at a time I was still in the process of picking up the broken pieces in my life,” said Ongare in reference to her agony of wrestling with the stigma of an early pregnancy that came when she was barely in her teenage.
Upon returning home from China, the diminutive boxer, who stands at 4'8, began punching on the bag furiously.
“I came back home more determined to succeed. In 2014, I found another opportunity to represent the country at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland,” said Ongare.
Ongare said she performed comparatively well in the tournament and accumulated sufficient experience to garner more international limelight.
In 2016, she again got a chance to compete at the Africa Olympics qualifiers in Cameroon where she won her first bout but went on to miss out on qualification after her Nigerian opponent secured the berth on a split decision.
“Following the split decision, any of us could have been awarded the qualification slot, but I was told my opponent was given priority because she came into the tournament as a silver medalist,” said Ongare.
“I didn't give up and the urge to participate in the Olympics fired me on. In 2017, I participated at the Africa Championships in Kinshasa, Congo and won a bronze. I felt so motivated with the medal and vowed to battle my way to more glory.”
The following year, she bagged her second bronze at the African qualifiers in Gold Coast. However, 2019 marked her turning point when she emerged from the All Africa Games in Morocco with an empty basket.
“Upon our return from Morocco, I felt so inferior given it was only the medal winners who were receiving all the attention. Having previously basked in the glory of a medal winner, I felt the pinch of being ignored and vowed never to lose again,” she said.
So determined was she that during the Africa Olympics qualifiers in Dakar, Senegal, she fought her way to an Olympic qualification berth after flooring her Ugandan opponent, Catherine Nanziri.