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12/29/2018 12:31 am  #1

  NAIROBI, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) -- The scorching midday sun accompanied by choking dust never deterred a group of youth from Nairobi's Mathare slums from practicing their favorite sport, boxing. Despite the abject poverty that blights their neighborhood, these youth are determined to make a mark in the world of boxing. They meet every day at an open field where they practice how to throw punches and based on their facial expressions, these slum youth have fallen in love with a sporting genre associated with grit, energy and resilience. Bobby Kioko, a bubbly Mathare youth, is grateful to sponsors who recognized his boxing prowess and agreed to pay his university education. Like millions of slum youth, Kioko has witnessed appalling vices ensnare his peers in the prime of their lives hence his resolve to make a difference. Kioko fell in love with boxing in his teenage years and has earned fame in Mathare slums for achieving great feats in this sporting genre. Together with his childhood friends from Mathare slums, Kioko has been at the forefront of encouraging young adults to practice boxing as a full-time career. During a recent interview with Xinhua, Kioko said boxing has shielded Mathare youth from the snare of anti-social behavior like drug abuse, petty crime and irresponsible sex. Geoffrey Gichuhi is among Mathare youth who have benefited from Kioko's mentor-ship, and has vowed to pursue boxing as a vocation. "I dropped out of school in class Six after my mother succumbed to HIV and Aids and together with my siblings; we were left at the care of our grandmother. Negative peer pressure forced me to abuse hard drugs but thanks to boxing, my life is now an exemplar to fellow youth," said Gichuhi. He is a committed leader of the boxing team formed by the Mathare youth to offer them a respite to despair and hopelessness linked to poverty. Though the group is yet to clinch mega sponsorship, it has at least served as a haven for rehabilitating Mathare youth whose lives were destroyed by a host of vices like drug abuse, alcoholism and stealing. Josephine Kavindu, the mother of a 16-year-old daughter who has enrolled in boxing lessons, said the sport came to the rescue of a teenager who was treading on a dangerous life's path thanks to negative peer influence. "I am very grateful to the youth who spotted her talent and encouraged her to take up this sport," said Kavindu. Ndanu Nzau, a middle-aged woman whose teenage daughter is now a boxing champion, said the sporting genre has boosted self-esteem in the primary school drop-out. Majority of members of the Mathare boxing club are school drop-outs but their resilience and optimism is a source of inspiration to their peers elsewhere. Hannington Omondi, the youngest member of the boxing club, is determined to excel in his academic work even as he spares time to practice how to punch an opponent. Omondi will complete his primary school education this year and hopes to score an impressive grade that will secure him a place in national secondary schools. 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