14.06.04 – Wrestler, boxer, preacher: He is probably one of the most unusual and most refreshing figures that the professional sport of boxing ever produced: The full name of the Zaire born heavyweight who is carrying the Austrian nationality is Biko Ikomonya Botowamungo. Friends just call the the hard punching fighter “Big Biko”.
In his long and colorful sport career the big, muscular 260 lb. warrior capaigned in many different martial art categories, among others as Roman-Greece- and Freestyle wrestler, as Olympic boxer, as professional boxer and as sparring partner. Now, at senior’s age of 47, Biko wants to fight one last time before finally retiring.
His motivation for his last fight: His believe in God and his wish to lay the foundation of a Baptistic curch in Vienna.
The fight takes place on June 22, 18:30 (CET), and will be broadcast live and exclusive on
Biko Botowamungo was born January 22, 1957, in Kisangari, Kongo, the central African country that is called Zaire now. At age 19 the intelligent man with the sunny smile left the safety of his home, began to travel the world and started a career as martial artist. Stopovers of his career were New York, Vienna, Martinsville (VA) and Berlin.
„I was young and determined. I just wanted to leave my home and collect new experiences and impressions”, Biko said. “In my career I traveled the whole world.”
The initial motivation to start a boxing career came in 1974 when Muhammad Ali fought George Foreman in his home country Zaire, an event that Botowamungo was witnessing closely. Many years later Biko even shared one common opponent with Ali. Not a boxer, however, but the Japanese wrestler Inokio, against who first Ali, then Biko, fought in a show contest in Tokyo.
„Of course the fight ran based on a script. We were told what we had to do. I always carried a lot of sympathies in my athletic career. But in Tokyo I was told to be play the bad guy”, Biko remembered smiling.
Botowamungo worked as Security Guard in Vienna for 16 years at the United Nations and protected several generations of general secretaries. In 1988 Biko fought in the Olympic boxing team of Austria in Seoul. Four years later the 8-time Austrian champion turned pro.
„I met a lot of important people in boxing. Many reputable trainers complimented my punching power and my talent. They were predicting me a great career”, Biko said in fluent German with an unique accent. Beside German Biko Botowamungo is speaking six languages: English, French and four different African languages.
„Among others Eddy Futch, George Benson and Emanuel Steward appreciated my skills. Unfortunately my career didn’t proceed the way it should have. I had no real management. People just called me one or two days prior to a fight and I never had the chance to be reasonably prepared. After a while I only stepped into the ring for money.”
His boxing record is reflecting this story. After running 9-2-1 (9) in his first twelve bouts, Biko Botowamungo lost 13 of his next 14 contests. But still many fighters will remember the great power of his punches, among others Mike Tyson and Oliver McCall against who Biko Botowamungo was sparring.
„After a few sparring sessions with Mike Tyson I was fired because he felt I was hitting too hard. Don King quickly ordered a new sparring partner”, Biko told.
In his professional career Botowamungo fought many name opponents, among others Wladimir Klitschko, Chris Byrd, Corey Sanders, Lamon Brewster and Luan Krasniqi. Most of those fights he took on very short notice and lost by decision.
The turning point of his life was January 24, 1998. On this day, Biko Botowamungo swears, God appeared to him in his home of Virginia.
„Nobody can understand it who didn’t have the same experience“, Biko said, who now works as preacher in several Austrian churches. “Since that day all I want is to serve God. To accomplish a great sport career or to become millionaire doesn’t interest me. Now, the most important thing in my life is God.”
That’s why Biko will donate his entire purse for the construction of a new Baptistic church in Vienna.
“I don’t even want to know the ammount of my purse. If God knows my purse, this is enogh”, the African-Austrian preacher and seven-time father said who is now living in Vienna together with his big family.
In his last fight as a professional boxer “Big Biko” will step into the ring on June 22 at the Spotlight Boxing event in Telfs, Austria, in a contest for the international Austrian heavyweight championship. The fightcard at the Telfs sport center carries ten fights. Boxing.de will broadcast six of those contests live on the internet.