Kenyan presence in kabaddi

Kolkata: Simon Maina Kibura is a Kenyan kabaddi professional and is the only player from the African nation to play in the franchise-league Pro Kabaddi, representing Puneri Paltans.

The 25-year-old looks like any other Kenyan -- a tall frame of 6 feet 2 inches with long legs but he`s not here to run but to raid.

A national-level discus thrower and sprinter for his Nairobi province, Kibura did not know what kabaddi is till his friend, who plays taekwondo, explained the Indian sport.

"I would first say `Kadibba`, `Kabadda`... As it took some time to get the name correct. It sounded to me like rugby, some kind of a physical sport," the business management student told PTI in an interview.

"From childhood I always fancied to play contact sport like rugby, wrestling... And, I fell in love with the sport at first sight -- (from) YouTube," the Kenyan said recalling taking kabaddi lessons from the popular video site.

He`s yet to play a match for the Puneri Paltans who lost to Bengal Warriors in a hard-fought battle.

"I`m learning the nuances of the game but my time will surely come. I`m happy cheering from the sidelines," he added.

Kibura, however, has been a favourite in his team and teaching Kenyan dance steps to his teammates.
"They all call me `bhai`, first I didn`t know what it was. Now I`m enjoying every moment of my stay."

During last night`s match, a Pune raider found himelf in a spot as he did not have a jersey number and Kibura showed great camaraderie removing his No 2 jersey and handing over to his teammate.

He goes on to add that his younger brother too has taken a liking to the sport

"I`m sure there will be more and more Kenyans next year. People back home now know me as a kabaddi player. They say, `wow, you play kabaddi!"

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