Sitting on one of the rusty rails that used to be part of the shed built for passengers by the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco), is former World Boxing Organisation (WBO) Africa super-middleweight champion Tineyi Maridzo.
The boxer left the nation spellbound when he knocked the fearsome self-confessed hitman Michael Schultz in the third round to retain his WBO Africa super-middleweight title at Johannesburg’s Wembley Arena on July 9 2010.
The belt is now being held on an interim basis by Namibian Wilberforce “Black Mamba” Shihepo after the Zimbabwean was stripped of the title after failing to defend it.
Spotting a blue jacket and multi-coloured t-shirt tucked in belt-less blue jeans, Maridzo looks like any other passenger waiting to board one of the Glen Norah bound commuter omnibuses, but alas, the boxer is back at work as a “rank marshal”.
The 28-year-old is not at all ashamed of his “new” status and is happy that his former bosses, the Urban Transporters Association (Utaz) have given him back his job.
“Boxing is my life, but I have to feed my family. Before being the WBO Africa super-middleweight champion, I was a rank marshal so why would I be ashamed of the job?” he said.
“In fact, I am grateful to Utaz for accepting me when I came back from South Africa where I had gone in search of better training facilities. I need to raise funds to look after myself down there. Besides, I have two children and a wife (Eunice) who is expecting.”
“As a rank marshal I make about US$40 a day. I will save part of this amount to finance my stay in South Africa when I go there to train for my next fights. In South Africa I use their training facilities for free, but have to fork out R2 600 for rent and this does not include food. This is why I reverted to being a rank marshal.”
Maridzo still has a chance to lay his hands on the WBO Africa super middleweight belt once again after WBO offered him to fight the interim champion Shihepo before the Namibian becomes the undisputed champion.
“I did not lose the title in the ring but in offices, so I am still the champion. Shihepo is there on interim basis and has to get past me. That is the reason WBO has given me another chance and he will have to fight me. I want to assure my fans that once I am in that ring, I will not be fighting for myself but for Zimbabwe. I know what it means to represent my country and my fans will always be in my mind. I think the fight is on in the next three months in either Namibia or South Africa,” he said.
Utaz Logistics Officer Derrick Shamu said Maridzo has always been their son and they will do everything to help him succeed in his boxing career.
“Tineyi has always been one of us and we are willing to help him in any way we can. When he won that belt, he brought it to our offices and we rejoiced. We felt pity when we heard that he had been stripped off the belt because of failing to get promoters,” he said.
Efforts to get a comment from WBO fourth president Andrew Smalle were in vain.
Maridzo is undoubtedly one of the best boxers of his generation and many will remember how he twice beat Schultz to claim the title.
Maridzo’s defeat of Schultz on November 20 2009 after just 87 seconds saw him record South Africa’s fastest knockout time of that year to become the interim champion. He became the undisputed champion on July 9 2010 when, one minute 11seconds into the third round, his devastating hand right sent Schultz crashing on his back.
However, despite the boxer’s meanness in the ring, he has failed to garner promoters for his title defence.
Maridzo’s road in the boxing ring has not been rosy and even after winning the title, there were reports that he was swindled of his fat pay check.
Today Maridzo is back at the rank where it all started.