BOXING is often referred to as a brutal sport and, not surprisingly, parents rarely encourage their children to take on the sport as a profession.
BY ALBERT MARUFU
However, it is mostly impossible to stop a determined child from venturing into the sport.
Newly crowned African Boxing Union (ABU) welterweight champion Charles Manyuchi falls into this bracket.
On June 28, Manyuchi knocked out Patrice Toke in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in the fifth round, to join compatriots Langton “Schoolboy” Tinago, the late Proud “Kilimanjaro” Chinembiri, Thamsanqa Dube, Tineyi Maridzo and Arifonso Zvenyika who have held international belts.
His mother, Irene, who holds a yellow belt in karate and father, Otis, being a former light middleweight boxer, Manyuchi saw his fate sealed in the sport that inflicts pain on the body. Ironically the two discouraged him from joining the sport.
Despite their heavy protestations Manyuchi would evade them to pursue his dream at Kamunhu Shopping Centre’s Wafa Wafa in Tafara.
“I used to enjoy athletics and boxing, but was good at the latter. My father being a boxer himself thought boxing was a dangerous sport and, did not want me anywhere near the ring.
“However, I realised that I was getting better competition in boxing and decided to continue with the sport behind my parents’ backs,” said Manyuchi who has won one and drawn one in his 13 professional fights.
His father admitted he never wanted his son to be a boxer and only budged after he was called by then Mashonaland East governor Ray Kaukonde, imploring him to let his son follow his heart by becoming a professional boxer.
“I used to train female boxers Monalisa Sibanda and Diana Makumbe at King George VI Barracks’ Army School of Sport and did not want Charles to take up the sport. I wanted him to choose a different career path. However, when he was at Chifamba High School in Mudzi I was called by Governor Kaukonde who persuaded me to let the boy take up the sport,” said Otis who retired from boxing in 2006.
“He went to the Youth Games in 2006 and won Gold. He also won Gold medals at the Youth Games held in Gwanda and Gweru. It was after the Gweru Youth Games in 1998 that he was asked by Edson Zvobgo [Jnr] to turn professional.”
Charles subsequently turned professional in 2009 and relocated to Masvingo, where he made his professional debut on February 14 in 2009, with a victory against Isaac Phonkeni in a non-title contest.
“Being his trainer, I had to move to Masvingo as well and I am happy with how he is progressing in his chosen sport. My wish is for him to contest for the World Boxing Council belts. It is good that he has the ABU belt and hopefully he will defend it. I want to thank the Zambians and Edson Zvogbo [Jnr] who have been supportive of Charles,” said Otis, whose other kids Jacqueline and Otis (Jnr) are also pugilists.
He added: “As parents, we should not discourage our children from taking up their chosen sports. This is what I have learnt from Charles. Otis [Jnr] is still fighting as an amature and I want him to turn professional after 20 fights. So far, he he has been undefeated in the 16 fights he has fought”.
Manyuchi hopes to defend title
Manyuchi hopes that the local business community will support him in his defence of his title on September 28.
“I hope to defend the title at home. If I fail, the Zambians will promote me. I hope I will not be like other boxers such as Dube and Maridzo who lost their belts after Zimbabwe failed to host the title defence bout. With support, I will be a world champion one day,” said Manyuchi who was undefeated in 35 amature fights.
With his father as his trainer and his strong belief in God, the sky is the limit for the member of the Celebration Church International.
Manyuchi, who always carries the bible to the ring, added: “I believe in God and he will always help me conquer. In Deuteronomy 20 verse 1 it says: ‘When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you.’ ”