WITH no fight in over 365 days and nothing tangible promising in the near future, Zimbabwe boxing champion Charles Manyuchi has retreated to Masvingo, where his professional career took off over a decade ago.
Boxing remains frozen in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic and there has been no administration for the sport since January when the Richard Hondo-led Zimbabwe National Boxing Board of Control (ZNBBC)’s tenure came to an end.
Manyuchi’s last fight was on September 28, 2019, when he defeated Diego Diaz Gallardo in a World Boxing Federation middleweight title fight at the Harare International Conference Centre.
He was set to defend his WBF title against Muhamad Seybala of Uganda at the same venue on April 4, but the event was knocked out by Covid-19, which has since frozen out all boxing competitions in the country.
“I miss the ring. You can give me a job to drive a kombi, but I don’t know how to do it, so I will not survive in that field.
“All I know is to fight inside that ring,” Manyuchi, who turns 31 on November 19, told The Sunday Mail Sport.
Masvingo is where Manyuchi’s professional career took off under the stewardship of Eddison Zvobgo Jr in 2009 and the former World Boxing Council Silver welterweight champion has decided to retrace his roots as he gears for a return to the ring.
“Nothing beats the idea of rejuvenating myself here in Masvingo, where it all began. I started serious boxing here, I turned professional here and I am also doing some businesses here.
“Naturally, Masvingo excites me so I have decided to come down here and train. I am working harder now that we anticipate the sport to get the green light from Government to resume.
“Remember I had a title fight that was cancelled in April due to the coronavirus. We still have to make it happen.
“My camp was targeting December, but it all comes down to sponsorship. The groundwork has already been done and we are pinning our hopes on our traditional sponsors.
“Without the sponsors, it will be difficult to stage a fight . . . every fight should bring something on the table for the boxer, the promoter, and the sponsor as well.
“But boxing has been stalled and many people are feeling the pinch. However, all we have to do for now is thank God for keeping us alive,” he said.
It has, however, emerged that Manyuchi still has solid backing from his traditional sponsors Mr T35, who are in line to fund the boxer’s next bout.
Zvobgo Jr, who was Manyuchi’s first professional promoter and manager, is an excited man.
“This is about coming home . . . going full circle. There is a lot of spiritual and emotional significance of his homecoming.
“The whole town is fully behind their adopted son and people are proud of him. We started this journey with him and will walk with him to the end.”
Manyuchi’s next bout, if it materialises, is likely to be held under a collaboration between the Charles Manyuchi Academy and Delta Force stables.
Delta Force director, Clyde Musonda, said promoters were now itching to stage fights.
“We have approached the boxing board seeking to get the green light, but they say they are waiting to hear from the Sports Ministry.
“We are afraid of losing boxers because right now we don’t know what they are doing and where. So we need to resume like other countries have done,” said Musonda, a renowned trainer.
While boxing has returned in most countries, the sport remains suspended in Zimbabwe.
The outgoing boxing board chairperson, Hondo, confirmed the status quo.
“At the moment boxing is still frozen out. In fact, our term of office came to an end in January and there hasn’t been any communication from the minister,” Hondo said.
The Minister of Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation, Kirsty Coventry, has the mandate to appoint the boxing board.