Tribute to an unsung boxing hero Easy Ngangura Tjahikika (1941 – 1992)
Death has robbed the country one of the most accomplished boxers of his generation one Easy Ngangura Tjahikika, better known as ‘The Brown Bomber’ in boxing circles, who exited the game of life at the fairly young age of 51.
History will doubtlessly reveal that the departed handsome big-framed fellow was amongst the most entertaining and hard punching boxers in the 60s, as can be attested by his many fights that finished within the distance.
Born in the sleepy and relatively small town of Omaruru in the Erongo Region on the 24th of July 1941, Easy was obliged to try his hand at something outside the beautiful game of football, since his big frame was not considered conducive for chasing a piece of leather.
He was, however, a founding member of one of Omaruru’s football clubs, Scorpions ‘Ozondje’.
Unlike many of his peers in the neighbourhood who descended on the coastal towns of Walvis Bay and Swakopmund respectively in search of greener pastures and decent job opportunities upon completing school, Easy opted to relocate to the city of lights, Windhoek.
Upon his arrival in the capital, the light-skinned fellow wasted little time and soon joined forces with other young men in the neighbourhood to try their hand at the business of trading leather.
In today’s edition of your favourite weekly sport feature, Tales of the Legends, New Era Sport, relives the life and untold boxing journey of one of Namibia’s unheralded boxing heroes: Easy ‘The Brown Bomber’ Ngangura Tjahikika.
Growing up in the dusty streets of Windhoek’s notorious Old Location back in the day was certainly no bed of roses.
It was a battle of survival of the toughest and mingling with real streetwise toughies in the mould of the lanky chappy by the name of Ignatius Mbapeua Katataiza, also known as ‘Mazola’ among his circle of admirers in the neighbourhood, was just what the good doctor had ordered for one to be accepted as a real city slicker.
The township boasted some hardcore blokes and here the likes of the late pair of Kariua ‘Muzlangana’ Uazukuani and Tjistukie Itembu springs to mind.
Apart from chasing an inflated piece of leather whenever time permitted on the fairly limited open land sandwiched between corrugated iron-structure matchbox houses, the young boys would on occasion indulge in fiercely contested streetfights (one-twos) as a pastime, impersonating the elder generation.
Although the beautiful game of football took centre stage, the sport of boxing also captured the imagination of the township inhabitants.
During the height of apartheid under the South Africa regime, Bantus (blacks) were systematically and gravely humstrung by the skewed apartheid laws, coupled with restrictions on movement, which kept black people from unleashing their full potential in many aspects of life.
Back in the mid-60s, “darkies” were exposed to all kinds of nauseating racially motivated discriminatory laws, including restrictions on free movement and preventing black students from pursuing their choices in terms of their academic aspirations.
Coincidently, this was at a time when Americans of African descend were up in arms fighting against segregation in the US. The marginalised black folk started to critically look at dissidents, such as the immortal boxer, Cassius Clay – who adopted the name Mohammed Ali in later years – as role models.
Here at home in the then South West Africa (SWA) Namibia, athletes became the preferred role models within communities seeking inspiration. Footballers Wherick Uerivara Zimmer, Lemmy Narib, Floyd Maharero, John Swarts, Times Mwetuyela, Cleophas ‘Danger’ Siririka, Zorro Willemse and many others were rated highly.
Nonetheless, the abovementioned athletes did not enjoy the adoration reserved for the big-framed heavyweight boxer, Easy ‘The Brown Bomber’ Ngangura Tjahikika.
A soft-spoken and fairly handsome dude, his bulky physique belied his good sense of humour and kindness. He was revered by all in Omaruru, because of his respectful and exemplary conduct in and outside the boxing ring.
Bro Easy commanded admiration and respect from all his brothers, sisters and other siblings, such that none dared be seen smoking or taking any alcoholic drink in front of him – not that he would do anything physical though.
He was indeed a very popular and likeable fellow amongst both male and female fans and such was his impact on those around him that younger brother Nehemia Hijandama ‘Baby Clay’ Tjahikika followed in his footsteps, including his nephew, Abiud Tjahikika.
Arguably one of the finest heavyweight boxers of his generation, The Brown Bomber was pound for pound doubtlessly a much-sought-after pugilist in local boxing.
The late Brown Bomber was to enjoy the same status at home as the great Cassius Clay was exposed to in the United States (USA) and worldwide.
A strict disciplinarian, the strongly-built Ngangura was a noted and tireless weightlifter, whose daily training routine consisted mostly of lifting the heavy irons after work, while sparring with young would-be boxers and aggressively punching the bag at his spacious house.
His arrival on the boxing scene coincided with the emergence of other highly gifted boxers, such as Levy Riroo Hijamutiti, Abiud Kasiringua, Hijaviposa Keuajao (Ben’s old man) Eben Grifith Kahimise, Simeon Mbuerendende Tjipura aka ‘Kid Cassius’ (Barry Rukoro’s old man), Cliff Tjizake and many others.
Strangely, in those days weight divisions counted for nothing, as boxers would be pitted against each other on invitation, irrespective of their weight categories.
Easy’s favourite hunting ground used to be the dilapidated Gloria Hall, owned by local business mogul uncle Cleophas Katajee Kaunazondunge in the Old Location.
Occasionally, high-profile bouts would also be staged at the spacious newly built Katutura Community Hall and it was on one such occasion in 1965 that strongly-built Easy confronted the equally hard-punching and dangerous Kauejao.
The bout of the decade attracted so much interest, including a large crowd never seen in that neck of the woods before.
The big fight was preceded with a live music performance by the popular pop band, the Bee Bop Brothers, led by Coskey Uiisanua Ngaizuvare on harmonies, Baby Tjirimuje (drums and vocals), Ricky Katjivirue (drums) Sacky Mahua (lead guitar) Danny Ketjiperue (rhythm guitar and harmonies) and upcoming saxophonist Hosea Kaitindirua Mahua smoking the bent pipe, much to the delight of the appreciate revelers.