ON September 29, boxer Tapiwa Tembo who had turned 23, arrived at Harare International Airport from his South Africa base in a celebratory mood.
BY ALBERT MARUFU
He strode through the usually deserted terminal where everyone, save for conmen, seemed to be minding their own business.
In Tembo’s mind was the dream of becoming the first Zimbabwean to win the WBU Bantamweight world title in a fight.
Only Zambian boxer Gibon Kamota stood in his way of achieving this dream of winning a world title on his debut international assignment at home, having spent the last three months sparring in the gym.
Everything seemed to be pointing to a successful home coming show, with Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke promising that he would do everything possible to make the tournament a success.
A visit to Pastor Emmanuel Makandiwa’s United Family of God Church had also emboldened Tembo who could only see the Promised Land.
Little did Tembo know of the minefield that local boxing was. Nearly a month later, Zimbabwe Boxing Board of Control (ZBBC), cancelled the WBU Bantamweight title fight that was billed for the City Sports Centre yesterday.
The board adjudged that the promoters Deltaforce Boxing Promotions did not meet the set rules to host the world title fight and immediately informed their Zambian counterparts of their decision.
Sadly Tembo, who had used almost R30 000 (approximately US$3 000, returned to South Africa empty handed.
“I do not want to lie. I am very disappointed with the turn of events. I spent close to four months preparing for this title fight, and this is all I get. I have not only lost my time, but money as well. Imagine all the money that I used buying food and training clothes. I used approximately R32 000 (US$3 200) and if I can get at least 40% of the US$2 500 prize money, I will be happy. Everyone at Deltaforce Promotions is aware that I used my money. Right now I need to pay my rentals and I need the money,” he said.
But why would he spend over US$3 200 to get a US$2 500 winner’s purse?
“Yes, I was just fighting for the love of the game not money. I also wanted to win and do my country proud,” he said.
He said the board should support local boxers for the sport to move forward instead of throwing spanners.
“I did everything the board wanted, only to be told a week before the tournament that it has been postponed to December. We have been treated badly here. The local board made the mistake of sending the letter of postponement to the Zambian boxing board. It is surprising that this same board always clears me when I am in South Africa, but failed to do so now,” he said.
“Also, government must do something with boxing, there is lot of politics between board and boxers promoters, something needs to be done.”
Tembo, who immediately returned to his South African bases said his manager Felix Venganai was already organising a fight for him on November 22 in South Africa.
“When my manager heard that the fight had been cancelled, he immediately organised a fight for me. I will also go back to my job, where I work as a fitness trainer,” he said.
Clyde Musonda of Deltaforce Boxing Promotions was also not amused with the cancellation of the bout, which would have been the first in Zimbabwe.
“The fight will not be on November 22 because we could not provide among other things medical reports for the boxers, but everything will be ready by December 22. We will give Tembo 25% of the purse money as compensation for the time he lost. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you how much the purse money was,” he said.