Chiponda still throwing punches at 55

IT’S only a week before boxing granddad Arigoma Chiponda celebrates his 55th birthday.

By Brian Nkiwane

Born on March 3 1958, Chiponda believes he still has the firepower to throw punches and is still the best boxer in the land. Perhaps his military background has steered him this far.

Although his appearance on the international stage is limited, Chiponda boasts of 25 years of loyal service in the Air Force of Zimbabwe.

Standardsport caught up with Chiponda at his Chitungwiza’s St Marys’ gym where he opened up on several issues, including the new boxing board appointed by the Minister of Education, Sport Arts and Culture, David Coltart.

“I was part of the group who have been meeting to ensure boxing gets back to its feet. It was a blessing in disguise for me not to be elected in any leadership position because I still feel that I am still the best boxer in the land. Getting appointed to a leadership position was going to dent my ambitions of competing.

I still have a chance to make an impact,” said Chiponda.

The former heavyweight champion was concerned  that local boxers were spending most of their time out of the ring as they could not get fights.

“The board is the one that organises fights. We could not participate in international or even local fights because the previous board was dysfunctional.

“My last fight was in 2011 when I lost to Tamsanqa Dube in Bulawayo. Sadly, Dube went to South Africa where he lost to a DRC guy who beat him in the third round,” he said.

Chiponda started boxing as an amateur in 1976, graduating to fight in different categories that include light, cruiser and light heavyweight before turning professional in 1991.

Chiponda claims he is still the best.

“I still feel I am the best because I hear Dube has been losing matches in South Africa recently,” added Chiponda.

He went down memory lane: “Two years after joining boxing, I was crowned the Rhodesian Champion. I beat a white guy at Hellenics Hall in Bulawayo and his wife cried after the match. He promised revenge the following year but again I beat him, and again the wife cried. From 1983 to 1988 I fought in countries like Ethiopia, Netherlands and Nairobi with relative success.”

Chiponda joined the army in 1988, a development that forced him to miss tournaments locally and internationally.  He only resurfaced at an invitational tournament in Maputo.

“I also represented Zimbabwe at the Commonwealth Games but I lost after I sustained a cut on my left eye while fighting.  I couldn’t see properly. But back home I had no challenger,” he said.

Chiponda welcomed the new boxing board.

“As boxers, we were happy with the appointments. We are more than ready to start fighting again after that sabbatical leave.”

The Mutare-born boxer has indicated the need to revive the St Mary’s boxing arena which has become a white elephant.

“One thing that I am investing in is reviving the St Marys’ boxing complex which has become a white elephant with grass growing everywhere. We used to watch good matches and identified talent here in Chitungwiza.

“What we need now are pairs of gloves to revive the project,” added the boxer who has also turned into a coach and referee.

His parting shot: “There are a number of things that you have to consider when you decide to be a boxer. I eat a lots of sadza and beef and at times bread with a lot of juice. Our belief is you should eat like a pig.”

The boxer is married and has five children, two boys and three girls.

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