Tar Baby Maseko

One of the problems of Malawi professional boxing in the 1980s was that despite its immense popularity and the consistent success of local professionals, boxers had to rely on other sources of income, such as piecework, to fend for their families.

The 1986 Boxer of the Year in the MBC Entertainers of the Year programme, Jeremiah ‘Tar Baby’ Bazuka Maseko, who started boxing in 1972, testifies that although professional boxing was meant to enable boxers to earn a good living, most promoters swindled them.

“Unlike today, when boxers sign contracts before bouts, our contracts were verbal. Sometimes promoters could change their tune and give you just a quarter of the agreed amount.

“We had to rely on other duties to earn a living, but we had so much passion for the sport that we did not abandon it. Obviously, if it were as it is today, my 26 years of boxing would have translated into riches,” said the 60-year-old taxi driver this week.

The Chilomoni Township resident, who was nicknamed ‘Tar Baby’ by Zimbabwean pugilist Tar Baby Alfonso in 1985 after curtain-raising Alfonso’s bout against a Mozambican at Kamuzu Stadium, had his last bout in 1998 when he knocked out the late King Marshal Jetu in Nchalo, Chikhwawa.

The lightweight fight between Maseko and Giling’ande Chikopa at Lilongwe Community Centre ground in 1994 is on record as the first local bout to reach 12 rounds.

“Normally, boxing had a maximum of 10 rounds, but our bout had two extra rounds because the judges failed to determine the winner in the 10 rounds. Fans refused to leave the place until either of us won the fight. I, finally, won on points,” he said.

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