As Kenyan boxing continues to slump at international level, one Kenyan-Owen Karau is making headlines with his punches in the United Kingdom.
Karau, a multi talented 18 year old is currently among the top rated upcoming pugilists in the UK and believes he is up for bigger things in future. His goal is to become an Olympian though he is yet to decide whether of that opportunity arises he will don UK or Kenyan colours.
By March this year, Karau had fought ten times and won seven of them and lost three, the three loses having come in the initial stages of his career when he was still green in the sport.
For a career that has spanned only four years, Karau has made great strides despite having to balance between school and training.
“I have had to make hard choices to be where I am. I have sacrificed so many things other teenagers would do so that I can ensure I improve,” Karau told dimbasports.com.
“The biggest advantage I have had is the support from my father (Martin Karau). He has always been there for me, encouraged me and supported me in every sense of it. He has never missed my matches and is often there to watch me train and urge me more,” he added.
Among Karau’s first big fights was against Daniel Burridge via a split decision.
Karau won the first round, but Burridge changed his tactics in the second round and then finished strongly to take the victory.
“I was just 15 and learning the game. But I personally think I did well despite losing that match and even my coaches and the opponents coach was happy with my performance. That spurred me more and I started to put in more time and energy in training and working on my weaknesses,” said Karau who schools at Oxford Academy.
At Oxford Academy, Karau is the star sportsman. He is the best football player at the Oxford Academy where he plays as the anchorman in the midfield. Just last month, he was on target as his side Abinghdon United Development beat Westwood 4-0 in the quarter-finals of the Berks & Bucks Junior Cup. The Oxford United development team is playing four tiers below the English Premier League.
Once in a while, Karau has been called upon to represent his school in athletics.
“I have won several races. My specialty is 1,500m,” he says.
“But away from football and athletics, my passion is in boxing and I want to one day represent Kenya at the highest level if given a chance,” he states.
“For the moment though I am working hard to be at the top of the game. I train hard to keep fit. Training pushes you to your limits. I have a lot of heart. When I wake up I’m hungry; I want to keep boxing. It’s all about motivation. You have to be humble to work hard, keep focused and don’t worry about anything else.”
“It keeps me out of trouble, keeps me off drugs. The discipline is very enjoyable and spills over into all areas of my life. In school I concentrate more. It makes me fit.
“Boxing definitely improves your physical appearance and I feel better about myself.
“Training is something you dedicate your life to. It comes from the heart – when I step into the ring I get a thrill, I’m more alive. I get a rush and really enjoy that. It’s not so much a fight as a demonstration of skill.”
Karau developed interest in boxing when he saw his father watching a bout on television.
“He asked me what sport was that. He said he was interested in it and asked me to take him to the gym,” says his father Martin.
“I obliged, he was just 14, I though he would lose interest on realising how taxing the training was, he never gave up and here we are, he is now an upcoming boxer and I am proud of him and his achievements,” adds the elder Karau.
“Our responsibility as his parents is to support him in all ways and that is what we have done,” added the father of three.
Karau’s passion for the sport has brought him back to Kenya to meet up with leading Kenyan boxer Benson Gicharu and Rayton Okwiri, both boxers having made it to the Olympics and the Commonwealth games.
“I wanted them to give me tips. I want to train with the best and Gicharu and Okwiri are my role models. I am in constant communication with them and have learnt so much from them.”
For Karau, it will be some time before he makes it to the Olympics, but he looks to be on the right track.
“My Olympic dream is so much alive.”