There have been great athletes since time immemorial, but no one goes on forever and with money now dominating many a sporting discipline, for some it’s all about national pride this weekend when Namibia’s triple world champion, Julius Indongo, takes on American Terence Crawford in Omaha, Nebraska.
Apart from the astronomical amount of money at stake, Indongo has always been a faithful ambassador of the Namibian flag and pride.
On his last fight against Ricky Burns in Glasgow, Scotland, he told the watching world during his widely televised post-match interview how proud he felt he made Namibia. In fact, he cited President Hage Geingob as one of the people who will be extremely proud of his exploits against the Scot.
He is the epitome of a national champion, who even before throwing a punch has already won by uniting the nation as it rallies behind him.
The Namibian boxing wunderkind, plucked from obscurity in the eyes of global boxing pundits, will step into the ring to confront the equally dangerous Crawford for the multiple title unification fight of the century at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska in the United States of America (USA) in the early hours of Sunday.
From humble beginnings in the amateur ranks, Indongo has built an amazing run of 22 consecutive wins, with 12 of those fights finishing within the distance since joining the paid ranks.
Following in the footsteps of the legendary Harry Simon, Paulus ‘The Hitman’ Paulus and Paulus ‘The Rock’ Ambunda, Namibian boxing is without an iota of doubt on the up and Indongo is certainly up there with the very best in world boxing pound for pound.
Yet, given the often-shoddy fashion in which boxing scorecards are systematically manipulated, we pray that Indongo will not find himself at the receiving end of cooked scores to help save the reputation of his opponent.
The dominant view is that champions never lose easily on home turf and unless Indongo makes short work of his opponent the Namibian can expect a much harder time in the ring than expected and should at least throw twice as many punches to remain at the level on the scores.
Both boxers are phenomenal fighters pound for pound, but Indongo – a southpaw – has shown maturity that belies his short stint as a professional boxer.
We pin our hopes on his devastating form of late, capped by excellent displays of confidence, magnanimity and fearlessness, but often at the risk of bringing heaps of muck down on his followers.
Yes, he is not the most entertaining boxer around, but he is an incredible fighter for his age –indeed for any age – but he specialises in taking his opponents’ fight away from them by plodding forward at amazing pace, like a wounded tiger.
While some predict an easy payday for the American, anyone with half a brain knows for sure that Julies can bring a contest to a premature end whenever he likes and Crawford’s corner will be better advised than to underestimate the hard-hitting Namibian.
Win or lose, tomorrow’s historic fight is likely to add a new dimension not only to the overall growth sport in Africa, but Namibia in particular.
Victory will propel Julies and his handlers to greater heights, with their names proudly engraved in the golden pages of our national sporting archives.
Not since Harry Simon became world champion at Carousel in 1998 has the sport of leather trading captured the imagination of Namibians from all walks of life to such an extent where cultural and clan affiliation, as well as tribal loyalties and sentiments are cast aside in the national interest, albeit temporarily.
One thing is for sure: irrespective of the outcome, this fight is destined to define the overall lifestyle of this down-to-earth young man, who still holds an 8 to 5 job as an inspector with the Namibian police.
Let’s all rally behind this son of the soil and keep him in our prayers.
Go for gold Julius, make Namibia proud again!