By Blessings Mashaya
HARARE – President Robert Mugabe yesterday made light work of the criticism his government has faced over its neglect of successful boxer – Charles Manyuchi – when he handed over $50 000 cash reward to the pugilist who successfully defended his World Boxing Council (WBC) welterweight title earlier this month.
Mugabe and his cabinet, prior to Manyuchi’s victory in Italy two weeks ago, had been slammed for doing little to motivate and reward the young Zimbabwean boxer who is based in Zambia, after failing to get sponsorship on home soil.
The Mutoko-born boxer is treated like a Zambian and our northern neighbour has tried, before yesterday’s honour, to persuade Manyuchi to change his citizenship.
Manyuchi successfully defended his WBC title when he stopped Italian Gianluca Freeza in Venice via a technical knockout in the sixth round a fortnight ago.
But yesterday the Zimbabwean nonagenarian leader lived up to his promise from last week to hold a luncheon for Manyuchi at the State House.
“Keep on flying our flag high, we are very proud of you Manyuchi as Zimbabwe,” Mugabe said. “Charles’s victory is not for him only but is for Zimbabwe, SADC and Africa as a whole.
“I wish to recognise the role played by Oriental Quarries Boxing Promotions from Zambia. It is difficult to achieve a prize in the area of boxing, boxing it’s much harder unlike football, basketball and other team sport where you assist each other as a team.
“In boxing you must know how to throw your punches and also need to study the tactics of your opponent,” said the President.
Manyuchi was delighted by finally receiving recognition from his country and pleaded for more help from the President.
Since turning professional in 2009, he had never received any assistance from the Zimbabwean government.
In search of the best platform to fulfil his hopes, the boxer had to relocate to Zambia where he is fighting under the Oriental Quarries Boxing Promotions (OQBP).
“There have been stumbling blocks and challenges and we overcome. The pleasure to those blockages is that they are testimony to the glory we all bask in and today we want to thank God as we gather to celebrate,” said Manyuchi.
“Thank you for the honour your Excellency. This is a lifetime opportunity for me and I always cherish it forever. At the same time we continue to launch our plea to you, as your children.
“Zimbabwean sport threatens to abort, we need you. Apa zvaakutoda imi nyakutumbura (It now needs your intervention our father),” added Manyuchi whose luncheon drew cabinet ministers among them Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Some of the ministers who graced the event included Minister of Home Affairs Ignatius Chombo, Minister of State Security Kembo Mohadi, Minister of defence Sydney Sekeramayi and Minister of the Welfare of War Veterans Christopher Mutsvangwa.
It has been an arduous journey for Manyuchi whose stock rose after beating Ghanaian Patrick Allotey to claim the vacant WBC welterweight title back in March last year.
The 25 year-old followed up that victory by successfully defending his belt when he beat Colombian Devis Casseres by a second round technical knockout in November last year. Daily News