Muniafu keen to lead KRU
One of rugby’s most revered names, Max Muniafu (pictured) has kept close touch with the game after retiring in 2000 following an 18-year playing career.
When few dared to question former Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) Chairman Richard Omwela’s leadership, Muniafu and the incumbent Mwangi Muthee were the only ones who ran against him in the 2010 election.
Losing to Muthee, however, has not dampened his ambition of having his turn on the hot seat. He will take a second shot in 2016.
“I am organising myself to run for the KRU chiarmanship in 2016 as I believe I have a lot to offer to the sport. I have experience as a player, a coach and an administrator. We need to grow the sport further” he said.
Born in Bungoma in 1962, Muniafu was raised among six brothers, Joe, Moses, Mike, Sam, Elam and Victor, all played rugby. Joe, Victor and Muniafu played for the national 15-a-side team in the 1980s.
“My father squeezed nearly 10 hours of play into each day. Since we only ate good, natural food back then. It moulded all of us into good sportsmen,” he said of his childhood.
While growing up, their favourite game was British Bulldog. It is a corruption of rugby where each player must knock down their opponent to get to safety.
Throughout his time at St Georges Primary School, Max played football. His size, speed and aggression intimidated defenders.
After joining Lenana School in 1974, he slowly got interested in rugby but still played football. On the rugby field, even though there where a number of the boys who were huge, he was still a giant.
“I was mentored by legends such as Jack and Walter Omaido. They were in a class of their won. The brothers, in my opinion, are the greatest players to date,” Muniafu said.
“Mad Max” quickly caught on, as more people knew him by that name rather than the official one. Muniafu left a mark in the football and rugby school team lists of greats at Lenana.
“I played as a flanker for the rugby team and a striker in football. After high school in 1980, I joined Standard Bank which was in the second division as I waited to join university,” he said.
When he was called to Kenyatta University later in the year, he bade goodbye to football and made rugby his first love. With the likes of Michael ‘Tank’ Otieno in the Blak Blad side, they were a terror to many teams, but unfortunately did not win any titles.
In 1982, Muniafu was drafted into the East Africa Tusker team that comprised of the finest players from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
“It was one of my proudest moments as there were very few ‘miro’ (black) Kenyans in the team. We beat Zambia but fell to Zimbabwe that year,” he said.
In 1983, Muniafu was called to the national 15-a-side team after a stellar season with Blak Blad. After graduating in 1984, he moved to Mwamba which had purposely been formed for players graduating from Kenyatta and Nairobi universities.
Back in the day, Blak Blad, University of Nairobi’s Mean Machine and Mwamba were the only clubs exclusively reserved for indigenous Kenyans.