I cannot term myself a dyed-in-the-wool sport enthusiast. However I have staunchly followed sports from the time I learnt to giggle and grin. I think at one time I played number one in the local football team (i actually mean a village team) while still in lower primary school.
In standard four I was already following AFC Leopards. There were other football clubs in Kenya such as Rivatex, Shabana, Kenya Breweries, Gor Mahia and Bandari. As I grew up my ever-active fingers would infrequently get hold of a newspaper sheet, wherever it could be found, and fold it nicely before placing it in one of my pockets. In the evening I would sit down, remove it and start reading as if my whole life depended on it. The newspaper sheets carried mouth-watering sporting stories and histories. This is how I came to know people like Allan Thigo, Peter Dawo, JJ Masiga, Mohamed Abbas, the veteran Joe Kadenge (Remember the ‘Kadenge na mpira shoot goal’ chant!).
I remember the late Harambee Stars tactician Reinhard Fabisch who was at one point a darling of Kenyan football fanatics.
Those were the days you would hear of ‘Football Made in Germany’, Liverpool playing Stoke City etcetera. The international names that hypnotized our imaginations like witchcraft included Diego Armando Maradona, Gabriel Batistuta, and the Cameroonian playmaker Rodger Millah.
Time moved, and moved again. My mind started to wrap itself around the unending world of sport. Sporting universe inebriated my system and it was time to discover beautiful ridges and rifts of motor sport. The first encounter took place at the time I was in lower primary school. It was the legendary Safari Rally, which is now a pale shadow of its former self. The now famous Dakar Rally was for amateurs. Safari Rally was for hardened rally drivers. Who does not remember Dereva Shujaa wa Kenya Patrick Njiru with Subaru Team, Ian Duncan with the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, the late Collin McRae with his Subaru Impreza WRX STI, the late Richard Burns with his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution , Alastair Cavenagh, Carlos Sainz and his teammate Juha Kankkunen in Toyota Celica GT-4?
One of the hallmarks of boyhood in primary school was the respect from peers. Two conditions were to be met before you could qualify for this respect: You were either to be a very bright kid in class, or a hard puncher. There used to be a spur-of-the-moment boxing matches every day – from standard one all the way to standard five. It appears that we matured as we entered standard six. It was as simple as this: you grab my pen by force, I follow you, you slap me and throw it out of the classroom. That was an adequate provocation to elicit a hugger-mugger, and we would go hammer and tongs at each other, just to prove who was the toughest. It was meant to settle the beef (akin to the one of Souljaboy and Chris Brown) and earn, not a WBC, IBF, WBA or unify the the titles, but respect. The matches used to take place late in the afternoon and early in the evening after school. Can you imagine these are standard two kids!
The venue of the touted Pay Per View match would neither be The Madison Square Garden nor MGM Grand Las Vegas but a road pavement. The fans and fanatics would be classmates. They will call you Mike ‘Iron’ Tyson and declare their unswerving support in earnest. Then they would separate you later only to realize you had been beaten black and blue.
That is how things were, and the only name we knew in boxing fraternity was that of Mike Iron Tyson. In the sports snippets I read, they called him the ‘Baddest Man on the Planet’, and for sure he was, albeit in his prime. This is the man who sent giants crumbling in succession, and within the first round of matches. In most cases, it was through a knockout. I remember reading an article in the Local Daily about impending contest between him and Peter McNeeley, the five hundred million dollars he made throughout his career and the 21 million dollars he made in two minutes when he floored Michael Spinks. And now goes a broke Mike!
There is a difference between being a conqueror and being More than a Conqueror. I have been trying to understand the difference between the two, and Mike Tyson has helped me understand the difference. Thank you Baddest Man on the Planet!
Time lapsed as fast as school holidays and I met another sporty friend called Cricket. Daily Nation and East African Standard had colourful images of India versus Pakistan duels, Kenya’s Steve Tikolo and Maurice Odumbe.
Coming in marathon after cricket was Athletics. Names such as Daniel Komen, Paul Tergat, Maria Mutola, Tegla Loroupe, and Catherine Ndereba got etched in my mind.
These are some of the sports and sportsmen who towered like Lamu coconut tree and painted our past years in glitz. Thus when we speak of conquering – in sports – names such as Carlos Sainz, Diego Maradona, and Daniel Komen dot the almost charred history books. Peter Dawo, Allan Thigo, Ken Kenyatta, Steve Tikolo, Tiger Woods and of course Mike Tyson – before he bit off Evander Holyfield’s ear – grace my memory.
These are conquerors. We have our modern day conquerors and I am pretty sure we cannot exhaust the list here.
Probably these are the men and women who would be considered some of the greatest in sporting arena.
A conqueror through Christ.
The Bible in Romans 8:37 tells us that we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. A conqueror is a person who decimate his/her enemies and frenemies, and expand his/her sphere of influence considerably. For example we can say Alexander the Great was a conqueror; Nebuchadnezzar II was a conqueror; Augustus Caesar was a conqueror; Leonidas of Greece was a conqueror and Hannibal of Carthage too. But there is one thing we must always remember, that these guys too, were victims of conquests. They lost it to a stronger opponent – either a human figure or death. This is another illustration that taught me the difference between a conqueror and more than a conqueror.
According to the Holy Writ, Christians are more than conquerors through Christ because not only do we conquer trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger and sword, but also death. Death, which is the equalizer enemy, is no more a threat to Christians. Death was rendered powerless by the vicarious and yet victorious death of Jesus at the Cross of Calvary. This is the reason you are More Than a Conqueror.
Many can conquer famine, sword and other things. But these conquests prove epyrrhic victory they leave souls scarred, weakened, bitter and separated from the Love of God. The story changes for the More Than Conquerors, for these things cannot separate them from the love of God. Our ability to conquer that which conquers others – death – is found in Jesus Christ alone.
How do Conquerors Live?
1. They sit down to learn as they train their focus on the Lord Jesus – Luke 10:39, Hebrews 12:1-2
2. They stand their ground and remain unshaken even in horrid storms and torrid sunstrokes – Matthew 7:24 – 27
3. They walk with Jesus daily – Matthew 9:9
4. They run the good race – 2nd Timothy 4:7
5. They fly like an eagle – Isaiah 40:31
6. They sit, stand, walk, run and finally fly.
What do you think dear friend?