ZIMBABWEAN boxing has been on the rise for a long time now, but over the last couple of years, the sport has become almost a pinnacle on the local sporting landscape.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Charles Manyuchi’s recent meteoric rise to become the World Boxing Council (WBC) welterweight champion serves as a prime example of how strong boxing is in Zimbabwe, having cultivated a passionate following over the years.
While Manyuchi has established himself as one of the legends of the sports fraternity in Zimbabwe, another emerging Zimbabwean boxer has been quietly making tremendous strides in the UK.
Not many Zimbabwean boxing fans may have heard much of Tamuka Muchapondwa, but the Reading-based welterweight fighter already looks set to become the country’s next boxing star.
Muchapondwa is currently one of the hottest prospects in British boxing. The unbeaten 23-year-old, who is affectionately known as “Mucha”, has racked up 13 straight wins, with three coming by KOs since turning pro in 2012.
Last month Muchapondwa, who is ranked the ninth-best welterweight boxer in the UK, successfully defended his British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) Southern Area Welterweight title after scoring a unanimous decision victory over 37-year-old Dutchman Innocent Anyanwu.
His biggest professional win thus far came in May last year when he won the Southern Area title in London after beating former English champion Erick Ochieng.
The young boxer credits his incredible rise in British boxing to his team, which includes former British boxers Trevor Francis (coach) and Chris Sanigar (manager).
“I attribute my success to my team. I have a great coach in Trevor Francis, who is a former professional boxer and a very good manager in Chris Sanigar, who was also professional in his time and had one of his fights in Zimbabwe. I also have a very good strength and conditioning coach Tom Joyce who handles all my nutritional needs and ensures that I am in the best fitness condition and as strong as possible before my fights.
“I have also had the pleasure of training with two former world champions in Lee Selby and Lee Haskins who are managed by Chris Sanigar, which motivates me and allows me to see how hard I need to train if I want to be like them,” he said.
Muchapondwa — who is inspired by retired American superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr — said his ultimate goal was to become Zimbabwe’s next boxing world champion.
“My ultimate goal is to become Zimbabwe’s next world champion in the welterweight division in the future,” Muchapondwa declared during an interview with Standardsport from his base in the UK.
“Zimbabwean boxing has seen a lot of improvements at the moment and I see it continuing to grow because we definitely have the talent. I would love to fight there in the future; it would be a dream come true to fight in front of all the family and friends I grew up with,” he said.
Next month, Muchapondwa will yet again defend his Southern Area title against Irishman John O’Donnell in what will also be a British title eliminator.
“If I win, I will become mandatory for the British title and it will be great achievement for me to fight for that title.
I have been training very hard and making sure that I do everything properly so I can win and become the British Champion. My opponent has great experience with 30 wins and two losses, so a victory against him will show the world that I am a true contender and I’m a serious threat in the Welterweight division,” he said.
Although he’s been in the UK since 2004, Muchapondwa — who was born in Harare — attended Glen View 3 Primary School and later Ridgeview Primary before moving to the UK at the age of 11.
The talented boxer revealed how he first got involved in boxing as a way of losing weight, having weighed 105kg when he was just 15. “When I got to the UK I attended the John Madejski Sports Academy. I became interested in boxing at the age of 15 because I was overweight and weighing around 105kg so I wanted to lose weight and I went to the local amateur boxing club called Reading Amateur Boxing Club and that’s where I started my training,” he said.