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I was betrayed, says former boxer Okusi

Soft, sweet music wafts from the pub as he stands at the entrance with arms folded. Customers stream into the club, greeting him with warm smiles as he welcomes them.

Six years ago, he was a professional boxing heavyweight champion but failed to defend his title and has since retired from the sport. Thomas Black Rhino Okusi, 49, now makes a living as a bouncer at Savah, a local pub in Huruma.

The job demands that he spends long hours at night maintaining order, which is difficult.

“I have done this job for a number of years. A place such as Huruma has mixed characters including dangerous ones, one has to be very careful when handling them,” said Okusi.

He said the job can be dangerous because at one point he is required to stop people from fighting or escorting trouble makers out of the pub.

“The customers are here because of us, and we are here too because of them. Anyone found misbehaving is handled with the minimum force to keep peace,” he said.

The father of five, who earns Sh10,000 a month, said the pay was better than nothing.

“I do not earn much, but working at the club is better than doing nothing. I’m Christian, I do not drink alcohol and I can’t engage in crime for a quick buck,” said Okusi.

A new person may see him as humble and friendly, but he is a tough guy respected in Huruma. No one dares to fight him because he is the “champion of the people in Huruma.”

“Black Rhino is a humble man who usually sits quietly in a corner. Look at him, he appears friendly but be he is not soft. I cannot fight him because I fear losing my teeth. I respect him. He is our champion here,” said a frequent customer at the pub Douglas Ombui.

During the interview with Okusi he got a call, excused himself and went outside to receive it. After five minutes he returned and said it was his wife calling.

“It’s my wife asking for money to buy food. I have no penny in my pocket and I don’t know what to do. Perhaps my family will sleep hungry today,” he said.

Okusi feels betrayed by people he trusted and believes God will fight for him.

“I was betrayed by my boxing managers and promoters. I would be having millions, but I now depend on tips from customers and a small salary. My home is the last place you would want to see,” he said.

Black Rhino was scheduled to defend his heavyweight title six years ago but due to a confrontation between his promoters, the fight flopped. The warring promoters each claimed they were his representatives and this did not go down well with the sponsors who cancelled the fight.