But today the former boxing champion is hardly recognisable and has lost that “dance” and lives in a match box house, otherwise known as 763 Sixpence Road in Gweru’s Ascot high-density suburb.
The boxer is struggling to make ends meet and his plight has not changed since Standardsport highlighted it last year, except that he can no longer walk without the aid of crutches.
“I am much better now as you can see,” he said referring to his deteriorating health when we last saw him.
The ailing former pugilist has for the past year been battling with sight and leg problems, forcing him to use crutches to walk.
He is still struggling to fend for the three children that he is living with out of his brood of seven.
The eldest one, Billy, has taken up boxing.
To see the “Dancing Master” all blown out is a distressing sight.
Here was the man who transformed boxing into a compelling spectacle. In an era of bow ties and Lifebouy (soap), he was brash, unpredictable and exciting. He filled to capacity Ascot Stadium, a venue for football, with boxing fanatics, something that today’s boxers fail to do. He was nicknamed Gazi.
Sportsmen hold a special place in our hearts. We are fascinated by their brilliance and by the frailties too, but it is their brilliance that blinds us to so much else.
Tinago lost his job as a tractor driver with Gweru City Council on medical grounds after serving the municipality for 19 years. He was also a boxing instructor at council-run Mutapa Hall where he honed his skills, but he is no longer able to attend because of his problematic legs.
His sight has gone very bad; he no longer wears his trademark thick glasses as he did in the late 1990s.
The 61-year-old Tinago is also a victim of the economic downturn, which forced him to sell one of his houses in another suburb in Gweru called Shamrock Park in order to survive.
Now he has literally nothing to sell. The two-roomed dwelling is furnished only with tattered sofas and an old kitchen unit with a television set and a free-to-air decoder on top.
On the wall with paint peeling off is a black and white photograph of a super-fit Tinago, which he claims was taken in Cape Town many years back. The photograph mirrors how the mighty have fallen.
The world seems to have turned a total blind eye on the internationally acclaimed former boxer, who had his name in the Guinness Book of World Records as the only boxer to win a Commonwealth title three times.