Fighton Simukonda is a former Zambian footballer and coach who was born on 2nd February, 1958 and sadly passed on on 15th February, 2015. Simukonda was born in Chingola where he started his football career. He began his football career in the amateur ranks with Division II side Mimbula Diggers as a defender. He later moved to Diggers’ town mates KB Davies FC, another Division II team. His talents were so apparent that, it was easy to predict that Fighton was destined for greater heights in his football career.
Standing at over six feet tall, he was a commanding presence in defence and in 1980, was recruited by Division I side Vitafoam United where he lined up with players like Ronald Mkandawire, Lackson Chanda, Michael Chabala and Boniface ‘Killer’ Chanda. His leadership skills propelled Vitafoam United to victory in the Independence Cup in 2-1 win over Strike Rovers. That season Fighton Simukonda marshalled and captained the Vitafoam United side. While, the club, the club management was so impressed with his leadership skills that they sponsored him to England for a coaching course. In 1982 upon his return from England, Fighton signed for Nkana Red Devils and this brought a transfer dispute between the two clubs that Fighton stayed almost four months without playing football until a compensation fee was agreed by the two clubs
In the 1980s, Fighton Simukonda was part of the all conquering Nkana Red Devils side that won 5 league titles in that time. His defensive organisation skills coupled with his leadership was the foundation the title winning side of the 1980s at the Chilata. Nkana once offered him the coaching job while still playing but insisted on marshalling the defence on the pitch rather than from the touchline. His national team career was not as glamorous as his club career. He was a pillar of defence as National team captained with his partner and deputy Ashols Melu. Zambia had one bad defeat at the hands of South Korea, which was one defeat too many for Simukonda who was dropped and signalled the end of his national team career. After his Nkana days, he trekked to South Africa where he ended his playing days and started his coaching career. His coaching career was as glamorous as his playing days.
Fighton Simukonda made his name in coaching at Konkola Blades where his brand of football impressed the then Chipolopolo Coach Jan Brouwer. This made Zanaco to make the move for him and finally moved to the bankers in January of 2004. He led Zanaco football club to back to back league titles in 2005 to 2006 and mentor another legendary coach in Wedson Wada-Wada Nyirenda who served as his assistant during his time at Zanaco. He went to Zesco United were he became the first Zambian coach to lead a Zambian team into the elite group stages of the CAF Champions League in 2009. At Zesco, he mentored the late Masautso Mwale who later enjoyed greater success at Nkana before his demise. Fighton also enjoyed league success at Zesco United. The pinnacle of how tactically astute Simukonda was came during his time in charge of Lusaka Dynamos, when he led the to their first trophy in 2008. He managed to upstage the much fancied Zesco United in the BP Top 8 Final at Nchanga Stadium courtesy of a Josephat Nkhoma solitary goal. This made Zesco United to lure him to Trade Fair Grounds there then home ground.
At the time of his demise in 2015, he was managing Nchanga Rangers the team based in the town of his birth. Simukonda is fondly remembered for his contributions to the beautiful game of football in Zambia. What is quite outstanding about him is that he was able to pass on his expertise to other coaches like it was to Wedson Nyirenda at Zanaco and Masautso Mwale at Zesco United. Both went on to win league titles when they became stand alone coaches.
Fighton Simukonda was truly born for the beautiful game of football.