FORMER Africa Boxing Union (ABU) Super Welterweight champion Tinei Maridzo’s name invokes a cocktail of emotions.
BY ALBERT MARUFU
Some idolise him for his exploits in the ring after felling South Africa’s Mikey Schultz to land the Africa Boxing Union (ABU) Welterweight belt. However, others, especially those that have come against his vitriolic attack, have a different view of the boxer.
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 11 seconds into the third round, his devastating right hand sent Schultz crashing on his back.
Among his casualties was fast food giants Innscor who partnered him through their Bakers Inn brand.
Always full of mistrust of anyone in his circle, Maridzo quickly started seeing the exploitative hand in the deal in which he was the Bakers Inn Brand ambassador.
“Tinei Maridzo is a brand in the same breath as Bakers Inn. As their brand ambassador, I was supposed to live a lifestyle that goes with that. I felt they were using me and even most of my friends told me that. I am worth more than the few thousand dollars they were giving me,” he told Standardsport after the termination of the contract.
Not only was he bitter with the Bakers Inn deal, but there were reports that he was swindled of his winning purse as well.
However, as the euphoria of his triumph began to die down, reality began to strike him as he realised that he needed promoters to help him in his title defence.
In Shona they say Manyemwe nemunyama zvinofambirana. Bakers Inn and some would-be sponsors deserted him, opening doors to his downfall.
Maridzo wrote to prospective sponsors, among them businessman Philip Chiyangwa. But all his efforts were in vain and resultantly, “Wasterk Power” was stripped of the title in 2012.
Frustration crept into the pugilist’s head and he started building a miniature Great Zimbabwe monument “to show the love that I have for this great country that does not love me” at his parents’ Warren Park residency.
“I am a champion, but the people of Zimbabwe have let me down,” he fumed then.
Through frustration, the pugilist briefly quit boxing and took up to training athletics at Warren Park School.
“This is my neighbourhood and this is the only way that I can help. Boxing is frustrating,” he said.
However, sooner than later, the former WBO Welterweight champion went back to his “roots,” which is touting.
The Urban Transporters Association of Zimbabwe (Utaz) quickly embraced him.
Utaz logistics officer Derrick Shamu said Maridzo had always been their son and they would 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 of the belt because of failing to get promoters,” he said.
Wearing slippers, Maridzo became a permanent figure at the Warren Park rank in Chinhoyi street.
“I was a rank marshal before winning the super Welterweight title. I still want to fight, but do not have R200 to travel to South Africa to start training there. I want to resuscitate my boxing career,” he said then.
South African trainer Harold Volbrecht rescued Maridzo’s career in 2012, but he was shocked by Ryno “The Lion” Liebenberg.
On the local front, the emergence of red hot Charles Manyuchi has eclipsed Maridzo’s exploits.
Five years after that surprise victory over Shultz, and at 32, Maridzo is back again in South Africa under Volbrecht and the aim is to rewrite the history books.
“I am still strong to win belts. I am targeting IBO, WBC and IBF titles. Wait for my July 26 fight,” he said.
However, that was not before he fired the salvo; “You are supposed to pay me because I benefit nothing, especially in your country.
What I know is that my brothers and friends who were with me during the trying period will be giving you $1 when they see the name Maridzo in the paper, depriving their kids of bread.”
Will he, like the proverbial phoenix, rise from the ashes and once again rock the nation? Time will tell.
At 32, age and to a certain extent lack of discipline, might prove to be the pugilist’s Achilles’ heel.