Pre-independence hall that lies in sorry state
Kaloleni Social Hall is an iconic heritage site with some walls emblazoned with black and white photographs of some of Kenya’s weightlifters who made it big in the sport.
Some of these snapshots were taken during the pre-independence era and they include that of the sport’s gaffer and legend Peter Onyango Odero, aka Boddie, who reminisces about past events as if they happened yesterday.
During a visit by People Daily at the Hall, one of the library’s attendants, Quivers Nyanya disclosed that one would almost find anything here although he reckoned that it needs refurbishment.
“There is a dire need to give it a facelift given that it’s a national monument in as much as what largely goes on here are sporting activities,” said the extrovert attendant.
Upon entry into the main hall, we discovered that, unlike most City County-owned facilities, there has been diversification in the number of sports where training is undertaken.
Here, you will find mostly sportsmen sweating it out in disciplines such as boxing, Kenpo, Kung Fu, traditional dancing (Utamaduni) and Ajua.
Outside, there is the handball pitch complete with floodlights where national league matches were being held before action relocated to Nyayo National Stadium.
The pitch is now being used by the home team, Black Mamba for training sessions late in the evenings.
But it’s the products of the facility in matters of sports that are the talking point.
One of Kenya’s best heavyweight boxers, the late David “The Giant” Anyim used to train here, and so are the likes of Anthony Waithaka and Tom “Nyundo” Onyango”
Like boxing, weight-lifting has had its fair share of success at the facility with Boddie, who ventured into the sport in 1966, being a stand-out among the highest achievers.
“I can proudly say that I was one of the few black Africans to venture into weight-lifting,” said Boddie who is still an active member at Kaloleni. In 1974 during the Kenya Polytechnic Championships, he clinched the coveted Mr Kenya Championships and was crowned the undisputed Mr Nairobi king during the 1979 edition of the same event.
According to records, the next generation of weightlifters at Kaloleni include one-time Mr Kenya Mickey Ragos, Chris Tabu, Paul Ayoma, Collins Omondi and Chris Mbai, younger brother of Chris Tabu.
The active weight-lifters include Steve “Ajeje” Wameyo, Godfrey Oyare and Gebe Ouma.