Mau Mau’s heart still in boxing ring
By Ellina Mhlanga
Renowned boxing promoter, Stalin Mau Mau, is part of the soul of the sport in this country. He was at the heart of the careers of some of the country’s best boxers, including former Commonwealth champion, Alfonso “Mosquito” Zvenyika.
Zvenyika was crowned the Commonwealth flyweight champion in 1998, under the management of Mau Mau.
He won the vacant title when he beat Briton, Paul Weir, in Glasgow, Scotland, in January 1998.
“So, over the years, one of the highlights is I built boxing to a level, where we had the highest number of boxers, rated by the Commonwealth, that was around late ‘90s up to the early 2000s,’’ said Mau Mau.
“The Commonwealth was a very major benchmark, for a boxer, because once you fought for the title, and won then, you are world-rated.
“So, that’s the period when Alfonso Zvenyika, popularly known as Mosquito, won the Commonwealth title, and defended it once and, the second time, he was defending it, he lost it. “But, really, it was the climax.’’
However, there were challenges, along the way.
“After we left the Commonwealth, boxing went into the doldrums, for quite a while, and I would say it was actually in the wilderness,’’ he said.
Other highlights include his involvement in the organisation, and staging, of the Zone Six Championships, in the country.
For Mau Mau, it is the passion that has been driving him, over the years.
“What people have got to understand is that, and I keep repeating that there is no sponsorship in boxing,’’ he said.
“When you see boxing thriving, it’s because of individual sacrifice because there is no sponsorship. “So, at the same time, you can have a boxing stable, you can have boxers but it won’t help if there is not going to be a fight.
“That’s why I had to be promoting also, to make things happen, despite that there was no sponsorship.
“The boxers must be constantly be in the ring, so that they gain their experience through these tournaments, and the money is very little (but) it’s not about the money.
“It’s about developing your product, as a boxer, so that it is marketable beyond our borders, that’s where the money is.
“I don’t take myself as a promoter, because promotion is a business where you have to promote and make a profit, make money.
“But, that is totally different in this country.
“In the past, or over the three decades I have been involved in boxing, I don’t charge anybody to come and watch boxing, it’s all for free and, on top of that, I still have to pay all the expenses involved in the pitching up of a boxing tournament, or the bill.’’
However, Mau Mau continues to be at the forefront of promoting boxing in this country, despite all the financial sacrifice.
“I don’t believe in working towards the light, at the end of the dark tunnel, I believe in creating the light in the dark tunnel,’’ he said.
“We are able to see in that tunnel and there is great assurance, while we are still in the tunnel, that the end of the tunnel is brighter.
“The problem remain the lack of sponsorship but I am fully committed.
“I am more determined than before the pandemic because I know time is of great essence.
“I, personally, am growing old as well, and I feel I have got to put all the efforts required to make boxing get to the top.
“Our aim is surely to have a world champion. “Then, I can assure you, we will have time to celebrate because that would be a milestone achievement for boxing in this country.’’
Former chairman of the Boxing and Wrestling Control Board, Richard Hondo, acknowledged Mau Mau’s contribution to the sport in this country.
“It is difficult to find words that can do justice to the contribution made by Stalin Mau Mau to Zimbabwean boxing.
“I had the singular privilege of working with him, first as the board’s secretary-general and later as the board’s chairman, spanning 36 years, 33 of them continuous.
“What is remarkable about Stalin Mau Mau is that, despite the prohibitive costs involved, he has spared resources for tournaments single-handedly, for the past 40 years, being responsible for 90 percent of Zimbabwe’s title challengers for the Commonwealth and Africa Boxing Union honours.’’ The Herald