Once Famous Athlete Struggles After Selling Land & Medals

  • Photo collage of Stanley Kagora training and at his shop in Kisii town.
    Photo collage of Stanley Kagora training and at his shop in Kisii town.
    NMG
  • Stanley Kagora Ongiri, once a famous athlete, is now struggling and living a life of regrets after selling his land and medals.

    Kagora, whose athletic career spanned four years, rose from rags to riches and then plunged back to a miserable life. 

    Having received accolades, medals and money from competing in various international races, the lack of a proper investment plan forced Kagora to auction all prizes that shaped his athletic legacy.

    Coupled with other family demands, Kagora was compelled to get rid of his riches to cater for his family's needs to finance his children's education. 

    Stanely Kagora Ongiri trains at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, ahead of the 2003 African Games
    Stanely Kagora Ongiri trains at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, ahead of the 2003 African Games.
    NMG

    "I also sold the medals to some Angolans and used the money to educate my children. At some point, things were so difficult and I lacked an option," he told Nation Africa.

    Kagora who now mends motorbikes in the heart of Kisii town made headlines in 2000 after winning a cross-country race in Nyanza. He dominated from start to finish, breaking the record. His impressive performance also earned him a spot in national athletics.

    As the top-rated athlete then, most European race organisers flooded his home promising to change his life. Just after a week of making headlines, Kagora was invited to race in the Netherlands.

    In the Dutch country, Kagora took part in three races emerging second in all and was given a medal and Ksh300,000.

    "I did not believe it and never even knew what was needed for one to leave the country. However, the organisers assisted me and I was handed a passport," he recalled.

    In 2003, Kagora was picked to represent the country in the Marathon race at the All African Games. He, however, failed to finish the race in which Johannes Kekana of South Africa won.

    Following that underwhelming performance, he was replaced in the Half Marathon race. After a series of mixed performances, he was finally dropped from the national team.

    However, that did not dim his light as he was invited to the Standard Chartered Marathon in Hong Kong. The 2002 Kisumu Marathon winner finished in 10th place, earning the cash he used to purchase land in Kisii town.

    Before fame, the once famous athlete had also struggled with partying and intoxication. He recalled that he always absconded his duties and that his life almost collapsed. However, he turned his life around to focus on competitive politics. 

    Stanley Kagora Ongiri at his mechanic shop in Kisii town.
    Stanley Kagora Ongiri at his mechanic shop in Kisii town.
    NMG

    "The day I realised that my life was almost hitting the wall and it is only me who would collapse, is when I had differences with my wife and it turned physical. At the time, I used to repair tyres in Kisii town," he narrated.

    "I lost most of my friends and some people even thought that I was pretending and would eventually join them in merry-making at our drinking joints, but this was never to happen again," he explained. 

    Learning from his past mistakes, Kagora is now willing to take another stab at competitive sports. Like other sportsmen who have ended up languishing in poverty, he is also looking forward to sharing the importance of investing with budding athletes. 

    The veteran athlete is also pushing to introduce proper management systems to empower budding athletes.