Philip Waruinge – Nakuru most decorated boxer

Phillip Waruinge

With two medals from the Olympics, three from the Commonwealth Games and two from the All African Games, Philip Waruinge might as well be Kenya’s best pugilists of all time.

His most outstanding fight was in the 1968 Olympics where he won a Bronze medal. All who were watching the match felt he was unfairly denied the win and made their views felt by protesting and cheering him wildly. The judges, who could however not overturn their judgment, were forced to give him the Val Baker Trophy. Philip Waruinge is the only African to have won the trophy.

Waruinge Van Baker trophy
Phillip Waruinge with the Van Baker trophy

Although born in Murang’a in 1945, it was in Nakuru that Waruinge grew up and started his boxing career. He attended St. Paul’s primary school before joining St. Theresa Secondary in 1960.

As a student, Waruinge loved and excelled in soccer. However, he was selected to join boxing and joined the Nakuru Amateur Boxing Club in the same year, 1960.

His boxing career grew rapidly. In 1962 at the age of 17, be was among those who represented Kenya at the All African Games in Cairo, Egypt. He didn’t win a medal then but later that year, he won bronze at the Commonwealth Games.

He won his first Gold at the All African Games that were held in Congo in 1965 followed by the second one at the Commonwealth Games of 1966.

Philip Waruinge had an illustrious career as an amateur boxer up to 1972 when he quit amateur to join professional boxing.

Back then, Kenya did not have professional boxing then and Waruinge moved to Osaka, Japan where be took the adopted name, Waruinge Nakayama.

On 27th July 1973, Waruinge debuted in professional boxing. Between then and 1978, he took part in 25 bouts winning 14, losing 10 and drawing in 1. In 1978, he was the Japan National champion. After losing in 1979, Waruinge retired from boxing to become a coach and engage in business.

Waruinge had a fairly successful life as a businessman in Japan. Unfortunately, he was deported back to Kenya in 2007 for failing to renew his visa. He left behind all his wealth and lives a life of near squalor back in Nakuru.