BY SPORTS REPORTER
FOR Gerald Sibanda, the former Zimbabwe international rugby star, setting up an internationally-acclaimed sports marketing firm was always a goal of his post-playing life.
It helped that the 33-year-old harvested a global network of sports contacts during his playing days in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Scotland, Romania, the United States and Asia.
So when he finally decided he would launch Athletes Sphere Management (ASM) last year, it was only natural that rugby — a sport in which he represented Zimbabwe in both versions — would be his company’s entry point.
Gifted 20-year-old tight-head prop Cleopas Kundiona Jr, a serious prospect for Zimbabwean rugby who was recently been signed by top South African franchise Sharks, is part of the ASM stable.
It’s exciting times for the young sports firm, which has gone a step further in its formative months.
Sibanda, a decent footballer in his early school days, is deeply interested in other sporting disciplines as well, which has seen ASM going onto the market to spread its wings.
When the opportunity to team up with Zimbabwean boxing poster-boy Charles Manyuchi presented itself, ASM didn’t hesitate.
Recently before and during the big night at the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC), ASM worked tirelessly behind the scenes as part of the backroom team for Manyuchi’s UBC and GBU middleweight titles fight against Pablo Acosta of Argentina.
The stylish Zimbabwean defeated Acosta with a fifth round TKO on a glamorous night before an appreciative crowd inside the majestic HICC.
“It was indeed a night to remember,” says Glorriane Francis, the ASM executive director of operations.
“Sport and, indeed, boxing, is alive and well in Zimbabwe. The beautiful crowd last Saturday bore testimony to that.”
Even more remarkable was how ASM was able to partner with Tinmac Motors, a company with interests in transport and courier services. Tinmac poured in a substantial amount of money into the fight.
Other companies involved in the fight included NetOne, Gary Thompson & Associates, Delight Credit and Phil Jen.
“The ASM team is honoured to have been part of such a significant event, and seeing the comeback of our champion, Charles,” said Francis.
“The support has been great and we hope to have more stakeholders getting involved in the next big fight on August 3, which is a world title fight. ASM will be leading in all preparations for this fight. Charles has massive potential and he has made the country proud by taking the first step to redefine his brand and bring his name and country back on the world map.”
A street parade, models, a convoy of luxury vehicles, including limousines and what have you — that was what characterised the “Restoration Fight”, before and during the main event.
“Long may it live,” said Sibanda, the ASM president. “More is coming from ASM, trust me. Big thank you to all those that contributed to last weekend and to all those willing to travel with us on what sure is going to be an exciting journey across the world of sport.”