The dazzling young lady waiting for us at a top restaurant in Blantyre is certainly easy to the eye. Stylishly dressed, itâ€™s clear she has charisma and sense of fashion.
Agnes Mtimaukanena, Malawiâ€™s top female boxer, is relaxing in the foyer. I comment on her punctuality and she says her boxing and accounting studies have taught her to manage her time effectively.
Out of the ring, the 21-year-old is very different from the ruthless pugilist who is unbeaten in five bouts so far; three wins and two draws, four of which were international bouts. The most recent one was a Word Boxing Forum (WBF) title bout which she won against a Kenyan opponent Susan Adezo.
Without her gloves on, she appears kind, caring, humble and down-to-earth. She is stunning!
When waiters in the restaurant realise who she is, the Mzuzu-born boxer in unfazed by the attention she attracts and is even willing to pose for some photographs.
From her appearance, you canâ€™t tell that she is â€˜Agness the boxerâ€™. In fact, she looks more of a model. She has a pretty face without any scratch as is the case with most boxers. She is not that muscular as other boxers, despite that she hits the gym almost everyday.
â€œA lot of people say that I donâ€™t look like a boxer and I have had some modelling agencies approaching me to be a model, but I feel I belong in the ring and not cat-walking.
â€œI used to take part in beauty contests in secondary school and was always winning, but I realised it is not my thing,â€ she said.
The first and only Malawi female boxer to win an international title came in the limelight in 2010 when, under Mike Chitenjeâ€™s Mulanje Last Boxing promotions, she challenged the then only renowned female boxer, Happiness Nkhoma.
â€œI was so nervous to be in the packed Motel Paradise. All people around me said I would not finish the first round, but I believed in myself and managed to finish all the rounds with the bout ending in a draw,â€ she said.
The Malawi College of Accountancy (MCA) student said she never dreamt of becoming a boxer.
â€œI always wanted to become an accountant. The boxing thing started in 2009 when I accompanied my friend for her fitness training session at Wanderers Club gym.
â€œI also started training just for fitness and one of the exercises was boxing. Just two days of punching the bag I just felt boxing was my destination. Trainer Andy Muyaya encouraged me and the rest is history,â€ she said.
Her friends discouraged her, saying boxing is a manâ€™s sport and one for savages, but she ignored them.
â€œWhen I told my parents about my intentions to take up boxing as a career, they just laughed it off, but they encouraged me though they did not expect that I would get this far,â€ she said.
Rise to fame
But her rise has not come on a silver platter as she has had to endure frustrating moments.
First, the National Professional Boxing Committee (NPBC) refused to grant her a professional licence, saying she was not qualified, yet other female boxers with the same number of bouts as hers were accredited.
She sought refuge with the Tanzanian body which accredited her without hustle.
Then, after her WBF title win, Malawi Boxing Association (Maba) and NPBC refused to recognise her title, saying it was fake, only to retract their comments after it was later proved to be an internationally certified title.
â€œThatâ€™s Malawi for you. When you are doing well, not all will be proud of your success. Those moments just made me strong and motivated me to work hard and succeed,â€ she said.
Her achievements have seen her winning a K 1 million (about $4 000) one-year contract as a brand ambassador for Pharmanova Limited.
She also met President Joyce Banda after her WBF title triumph and received K500 000 (about $2 000) from the first citizen.
â€œI have dreamt of being a president but never of meeting one. I was humbled by her encouragement and recognition .
â€œ While others look at me as an outcast for taking part in male-dominated game, the president was proud of me. She said I am brave for realising my potential and promised to give me support.
â€œShe told me to write a mission statement and I have promised myself to be a world champion one day,â€ she said.
The Public Accountants Examination Council diploma in accounting student has a lot of admiration for South African-based Isaac Chlemba.
â€œHe is my idol and I look up to him. I have never met him, but we talk a lot. Every time before I fight I call him for inspiration and advice. He says if I want to make it big I should go outside the country and fight more international bouts and that is what I am doing,â€ she said.
The boxer has a lot of secret admirers and admits that she gets a lot of propositions from men.
â€œI am in a serious relationship and we are so serious about taking the relationship to another level. But even if I marry I will not stop fighting, I will make a very good wife,â€ she said.
Mtimaukenena comes from Malosa in Zomba, but her parents, a retired army officer dad and a primary school teacher mother, stay in Mangochi.
She is the last born and only daughter in a family of two.