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The budding star boxing lost… tragic death raises questions

By Tadious Manyepo

On this day last week, budding boxer Taurayi Zimunya was receiving an avalanche of good luck messages. He couldn’t open them all, for obvious reasons.

Taurai Zimunya, 24, died after he was knocked out and collapsed in the ring.
Taurai Zimunya, 24, died after he was knocked out and collapsed in the ring.

He needed time to relax and focus. The 23-year-old was preparing for a career-defining moment.

Having been last in the boxing ring two years ago, Zimunya needed to shake it out in a bantamweight non-title bout against Tinashe Majoni, on Sunday.

The showdown would be part of a first boxing bill in this country in over three months, organised by veteran coach Ali “Otto” Phiri at Borrowdale Village.

Zimunya had not been well in the week preceding the fight.

But, he had already signed the contract to take up the fight before he fell sick.

As a brave boy, raised in Dzivaresekwa Extension, Zimunya felt he was fit enough to face Majoni who, for his weight category, is a seasoned boxer from the Charles Manyuchi Academy.

Zimunya’s mother Nyevero had tried in vain to convince her eldest son to withdraw from the bout.

“He had not been very well in the week before the fight. I felt he wouldn’t be fully fit to compete. After all, he had not had any fight for close to two years,” she said.

“I tried to convince him to withdraw but he insisted that he was now feeling well.’’

But a combination of factors that make up fate would connive in that boxing ring to paint the sport black.

Zimunya started off well given the calibre of his opponent, and the affair looked very much balanced in the opening two rounds.

As the third of the six-round bout was heading for a close, Zimunya somehow lost his touch, his footing and balance.

Neither did the referee nor his corner signal to Majoni to stop punching his opponent who, by this time, made no attempt to protect himself.

He was knocked down and fell into a comma, from which he never recovered.

He died the following day.

His mother was away in Nyamapanda for some business.

She had last seen her son some days before, given he had already become his own man, living at his own rented home with his wife of two years, Tawonga, in the same neighborhood.

Nyevero lives with her daughter Tendai, who is her third-born child, at their home, Number 6611 Dzivaresekwa Extension Phase 2.

Tendai is the last person from the family to have physically spoken to Zimunya. The first born, Betty, is married and was away, while their father lives in Marondera together with the last born, Isaiah, where he conducts church business. The whole family, including the deceased boxer, attend the Johane Masowe Nyenyedzi Nomwe Apostolic Sect.

“I was coming from across the road when I saw Tau (Zimunya) at the bus stop together with his wife. They were on their way to the fight,” said Tendai.

“I wished him good luck, so did most of the people who were passing by, who knew him. The community loved him so much.

“But, I never imagined that at exactly the same time I met him, the script would have changed completely the following day.

‘‘I wish I had gone together with him to the fight venue.’’

She has previously accompanied her brother to the match venues, especially at Magamba Hall in Warren Park, since his days as an amateur boxer, some three years ago.

Boxers, touts, vendors and church members were all there, on Wednesday afternoon, when the boxer was buried.

Given he was just 23, it was hard not to feel the best years of his life, and his sport, were ahead of him.

The manner of his death will always hurt his family, his community and his sport. The Herald