NOTHING personifies the death of local boxing like the run-down Mau Mau Boxing Gym at Harare’s Raylton Sports Club.
BY ALBERT MARUFU
On the left side of the entrance is a fading picture of a healthy boxer while an equally vanishing phrase: “BLOOD SWEAT & TEARS” inscribed on the right side.
Though disfigured, this is the message that greets the new Zimbabwe National Boxing and Wrestling Board of Control Board members (ZNBWBC) as they prepare to take office.
The message seems to point to the new board that they will have to shed blood, sweat and tears in the quest to resuscitate the sport that is in the doldrums.
Led by veteran sports administrator Paul Nenjerama, whose term expires on January 31 2016, the board includes former boxer Alexander Kwangwari and boxing promoters Lorraine Muringi and Ed Hammond.
Other board members are former SRC board member Tsitsi Muzuva, medical doctor Farai Muchena, journalist Gilbert Munetsi and former general manager of the Supreme Council for Sports in Africa Zone VI Rangarirai Charles Dzimba.
They replace the Richard Hondo-led executive, that had been in power for over three decades and lived through the bright days of Langton “Schoolboy” Tinago, Proud “Kilimanjaro” Chinembiri and Stix McLoud and into the modern dark days.
Though he has never entered the boxing ring as a boxer, Nenjerama believes that he has the administrative acumen to bring back the glory days.
“I have never boxed or wrestled all my life, but I am someone who has been involved in the administrative side of the sport for a long time. I am a sports fanatic who enjoys a wide variety of sports,” said the former Zimpapers and British Broadcasting Corporation freelance sports journalist.
The 58-year-old administrator however admitted that it was not going to be an easy task. “The minister [David Coltart] in his appointment letter indicated that boxing has been in the doldrums for some time now. It is not going to be a stroll in the park to resuscitate the sport and it is not going to be a one man band. The new board is experienced and I will be guided by the same board,” he said.
The new boxing boss, Nenjerama, said people should not expect immediate results.
“Our tenure is just for three years and it is going to be a very slow process. We are just going to lay the ground work. We would rather set the structures so that we enjoy the fruits later.”
Nenjerama said the new board would start by putting structures back in place.
“I am waiting for the Sports and Recreation Commission director general Charles Nhemachena to come back from leave on April 18. After that I will then call for a board meeting to set up the secretariat.”
He also noted the great need to take back the sport to the townships.
“In the past we used to have boxing contests known as Wafa Wafa in high-density suburbs. It is these contests that brought about boxers such as Tinago, Chinembiri and lately Alphonso Zvenyika,” said Nenjerama who retired as a Radio 1 soccer commentator in 1989.
The ZNBWBC boss added that the first board meeting should iron out some outstanding issues.
“The board is there through an act of parliament so there must be some form of funding. There is also the issue of a hand-over take-over with the previous board so that we know the number of boxers that are licensed,” said the class two soccer referee.
Nenjerama said everyone should put their hands on the deck to stir the ship.
“One thing that I raised with Minister Coltart was for a boxing and wrestling indaba. It is them that lobbied for the new board. The indaba will allow everyone with boxing at heart to air their views,” said Nenjerama.
Asked whether his board would consider re-introducing boxing in schools, the former Hartman House headmaster said they would consider stakeholders’ reactions and also note the initial reasons for which it was stopped.
The former Annual National Sports Awards chairman can be described as a “jack of all trades” having worked as an athletics and soccer coach, freelance journalist, teacher, class two soccer referee and commentator.
Such is the confidence exuded by Nenjerama. Will he bring back the confidence of the corporate world that recently watched while former World Boxing Organisation Africa champion Tinei Maridzo being stripped of his title owing to lack of promoters? Time will tell.