August 3, 2021

Christine Ongare became a mother at the age of twelve – chasing a medal

Christine Ongare, 27, hopes to become the first African woman to win an Olympic boxing medal.

She is fighting for a better life – and for her 15-year-old son.

– We live as sisters and brothers, she says.

The road to an Olympic medal is always long. But few people in Tokyo has probably had worse conditions to become an Olympic medalist than Kenyan flyweight boxer Christine Ongare.

Growing up in Nairobi’s slums in the Eastlands district with single mother Rhoda as the household’s only source of income, it was often a life on the border. On the verge of being able to add week to week, year to year. When Sportbladet talks to Christine Ongare on a tangled phone from the fitness center in Nairobi, she says that it was religion that held her mother together and drove her and her family forward in the slums.

It was also the strict upbringing that the 27-year-old says in retrospect was a partial explanation for her life becoming even more difficult as a twelve-year-old.

Flee bullying

– My mother was always so harsh when I hung out with boys. So I wanted to defy her, I wanted to experience what it was like, she says.

What would be some kind of teenage defiance ended with Christine Ongare becoming a mother before she even had time to become a teenager.

– It was so difficult mentally. My peers insulted me, made fun of me but I already said then that I can not change what I have done.

The little boy, Maxwell, was taken care of by his mother. She herself escaped the mockery and bullying and started going to a school in the country where her grandmother lived.

– I focused on education and forgot my past.

But back to his mother there was always the reminder. A boy she was rather big sister to than her mother.

Maxwell has not chosen boxing as a mother but is betting on football. Right: Christine Ongare’s son Maxwell with her mother Rhoda who raised him.

Photo: Private

– It is a very challenging relationship. We still grew up together. But we laugh together and he motivates me and he sees me as a role model.

“Dream of building a small house”

Now she hopes to give her football-playing son a better life with the help of a success in Tokyo.

The dream is to become the first female African boxer to win an Olympic medal. Maybe a path to professional boxing and a future.

– I have no way to make money now. I work in a company owned by our boxing president. My dream is to be able to build a small house and start a business that can help me and my family even after my career. But now it’s all about the Olympics.

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All before the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo

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Photo: Mark Metcalfe / Getty Images AsiaPac