ATTAINING secondary education, let alone passing six O’Level subjects, including English Language, is not something common with boxers the world over.
BY ALBERT MARUFU
Zimbabwean boxers are not an exception, and for them, trying to coin a coherent English sentence is a cumbersome task.
That however, is certainly not the case with boxer Tapiwa Tembo (23), who is not only eloquent in the Queen’s language, but with his boxing gloves as well.
Fate seems to have coined a career in boxing for “The Little Phoenix”, owing to his early introduction to the sport and poverty.
“I passed my O’Levels at Gweru’s Matinunura High School, but failed to proceed because my grandmother Laiza Tembo, who took care of me since the death of my parents, could not afford the school fees for me to further my studies. I took to boxing, which I had been introduced to at an early age by my uncle Langton “Schoolboy” Tinago. Mudhara Tinago is my uncle from my late mother’s side,” said Tembo, who is hoping to be the first Zimbabwean to lift the WBU Bantamweight world title when he takes on Zambia’s Gibon Kamota on November 2.
“My uncle Tinago, who won the Commonwealth title three times, introduced me to Frank Mutero who was based at Mkoba Hall in Gweru. I told him [Tinago] that I want to be a better boxer than him.”
Tembo feels that the day is now in the horizon and Tinago should be at the City Sports Centre on November 2 to see him lifting the title.
“It has been my dream to win a world title because of the promise I made to Uncle Tinago. I also have to win this bout for Zimbabweans for them to begin appreciating the sport. I am ready for Kamota, and don’t care how good he is,” he said.
With eight wins, two losses and one draw in a professional career that started in 2010, the Gweru born pugilist looks destined for success.
“I do not go into a bout looking for knockouts. Boxers in my division can’t take my punches and before I know it, I would have knocked down someone,” he said.
Such is the confidence radiated by the 53,5kg boxer, and his uncle Tinago is not surprised by the journey his former protégé has travelled.
“I am the one who introduced him to the sport and am not surprised by Tapiwa’s exploits. Muzukuru wangu ane shungu. [My nephew is eager for greatness]. I understand he is in South Africa now and if he has the right coaches, the sky is the limit. Please tell him to visit me before his world title fight. I have some tips for him,” he said.
However, local boxers — Tineyi Maridzo and Thamsanqa Dube, have been stripped of their titles after failing to defend the belts within 90 days.
If Tembo was to win the title, would he not suffer the same fate?
“The sport has been dormant for a long time, and I am happy with the young man’s confidence. I will do everything possible to help him prepare for this fight. We want to start with meeting the new Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture [Andrew Langa]. We want to introduce the young man to him,” said Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke, who is also the patron of Deltaforce Boxing Promotions.
Tembo has set his base in South Africa, where he is a professional boxer and also a personal boxing trainer at Blood Sweat and Tears Boxing Club in Cape Town.
“Mutero and Felix Venganai have been helping me a lot in South Africa. I can’t wait for this fight to raise the Zimbabwean flag high,” said Tembo who last fought on June 8, beating Simo Mbande in South Africa.
Whether he will realise his dream of being a champion on November 2, time will tell.
Maridzo, Musonda tip Tembo
Tineyi Maridzo, a former ABU Welterweight champion, concurred with the three-time Commonwealth champion.
“I have worked with the young boy as a sparring partner and have been receiving big punches. He is punching above his weight and being a former African champion myself, I know a champion when I see one,” said Maridzo.
His Zimbabwean trainer Clyde Musonda of Deltaforce Boxing Promotions, himself a quarterfinalist at the Commonwealth Games in Malaysia and the All Africa Games, said Tembo is destined for greatness.
“The 12-round bout between Tembo and Gibon Kamota will offer Zimbabweans a chance to see local talent at its best. We should just give him all our support,” he said.