The Zimbabwe National Boxing and Wrestling Control Board is living in the past with an archaic act that does not recognise females as professional boxers.
By Michael Kariati
The law was enacted in 1956 and has not been amended since then. Chapter 8 section (11) of the Zimbabwe National Boxing and Wrestling Act says that the Zimbabwe National Boxing Control Board shall not “register any person as a boxer or a wrestler who is not of the male sex.”
Standardsport has a copy of the act which does not in any way refer to females in any of its contents as outlined by the power of registration.
“The board is empowered to issue certificates of registration authorising any person who has been registered as a boxer or wrestler to take part in tournaments in the capacity in which he has been so registered,” reads the act.
The vice-president of the Zimbabwe National Boxing and Wrestling Control Board Lorraine Muringi says they have taken note of the anomaly and have highlighted the issue with the ministry of sport that it can be tabled with the relevant parliamentary committee for a change of wording to include female boxers.
“We have sought advice from the ministry of sport on how best we can handle the matter. The issue will be forwarded to parliament,” said Muringi.
A legal practitioner said although the gender discrimination aspect of the act has fallen away due to the changes in the constitution, amendment to the act needed to be effected by parliament.
“There are certain things that from the outset look very simple and easy. But changing the wording of the act to include female boxers would need a parliamentary sitting,” said the legal practitioner.
Efforts to get clarification from the chairman of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Education, Art, Sport, and Culture, Themba Mliswa, were unsuccessful as his mobile phone was constantly not reachable.
Muringi said she was shocked that the situation had been allowed to continue like that 34 years after Zimbabwe was admitted to international sport. She said despite the act, they had continued to register female boxers as they inherited the registration process from the Richard Hondo led board that had been in office from 1980 to 2012.
Although there have been limited female boxing tournaments in the country, fighters such as Monalisa Sibanda and Patience Masitara have become regular fighters outside the country after getting clearance from the boxing controlling board.
In fact, Sibanda went to the extent of challenging for the world title but fell short after she was knocked out in the sixth round by Zambia’s Esther Phiri after she challenged the latter for her World International Boxing Association and World Boxing Organisation light welterweight titles in 2012.
Although female boxers have not been very successful on the international scene, Zimbabwean boxing in general has had its fair share of success. Zimbabwe has a World Boxing Council International and All Africa welterweight champion in the form of Charles Manyuchi.
Gweru-based Langton “Schoolboy” Tinago won three Commonwealth titles at three different weight divisions in the 80s and was followed by Arifonso Zvenyika who also won the Commonwealth flyweight title in 1998.
Prior to that, Zimbabwe had two All Africa champions in the form of the late Proud “Kilimanjaro” Chinembiri in the heavyweight category and Stix McLoud in the bantamweight division.