Meet Ileka, the amateur boxing coach

By Michael Uugwanga

IN the world of boxing, women are now becoming a growing presence and are gradually breaking into the field and making a name for themselves. One such person is national team coach, Maria Ndapewa Ileka who also happens to be the only female boxing coach in the country to hold a 1-Star coaching certificate from the International Boxing Association (AIBA).

She received the qualification in 2016, the same year she attained a boxing technical course certificate from the International Organisation Committee (IOC).

However, when it comes to overall local boxing coaches be it male or female, the numbers across the country are small.

Ileka, who also owns a boxing gym in Omuthiya town in Oshikoto region established in 2011, is hoping to inspire more women to get involved in the sport.

Not only is Ileka an inspiration to others by representing an underrepresented group in the sport, she also incorporates her experiences and coaching techniques into her boxing classes.

Ileka was born at Onyanya constituency in Oshikoto and completed her secondary education at Nehale Senior Secondary School.

Her boxing idol is Anthony Joshua, the current World Boxing Association (WBA), International Boxing Federation (IBF), World Boxing Organisation (WBO), and International Boxing Organisation (IBO) world heavyweight champion, while former WBA, IBF and IBO unified lightweight world champion Julius Blue Machine Indongo is her role model.

“At school I used to play netball but I was so short that is why I was never good.

I never liked boxing but found myself in boxing due to the fact that I used to work with young people of whom some were in boxing and others in other sport codes.

“Since I started this boxing gym there were more than 80 boxers and women boxers were a lot but along the way they left because some felt pregnant while others quit because there is not enough support from government. It is us coaches and not the federation that has to encourage more women to come into boxing.

“I have hosted two women boxing bonanzas – in 2017 and 2018 but in 2019 we did not host one due to the economic crisis and this year of course due to Covid-19. My aim is to produce an Olympic champion and that remains my dream while I am still alive,” said Ileka.

Ileka is also a second-year student at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) majoring in logistics and transport management.

“I am managing to balance studies and boxing as most of the time I am on the road with my studies.

I have two trainers in charge at the gym whenever I am not there. The trainers that I usually leave in charge are Jonas Johannes and Christian Mushekwa who are both amateur boxers. I just want to tell those ladies out there that want to pursue a career in boxing to be disciplined and dedicated.”