You all remember that day in 2015 at the end of July when an elated Manyuchi met former President Robert Mugabe. The boxer had just successfully defended his WBC international title in Italy and received a hero’s welcome.
Mugabe awarded him with an envelope full of cash amounting to $50 000. Well yes, the then president received a pair of boxing gloves and teasingly threw a couple of jabs at Manyunchi. Sounds familiar?
Yes, recently the current President Emmerson Mnangagwa also awarded Manyuchi with $10 000 after successfully defending his World Boxing Federation middleweight title against Mahomed Sebyala in Masvingo. But this time on top of those boxing gloves, the president also received his version of a championship belt. Oh, there was also a superbly executed combination of jabs and uppercuts.
Manyuchi has quite a strong local boxing background but, of course, he had to move out of the country to Zambia in another version of talent (brain) that is affecting Zimbabwe in every sector. He made his exploits there and built a career.
The country should be grateful that the likes of Manyuchi who are trying so hard to bring boxing back to its feet, a sport that was close to extinction a few years ago. But without enough support, recognition and resources you can only do so much.
In general, sports in Zimbabwe we have been facing a mirage of problems that have stunted development and growth. The coming in of the Covid-19 pandemic has worsened things as all processes came to a halt.
However, the government through the ministry of sport should be playing an active role in the development of sport in Zimbabwe. It is unfortunate that after all these years, authorities only appear even after the 12th hour to pass congratulations and hand out a bunch of cash to the champions.
What about those who have lost?
Was it incompetence?
Sports development needs funding and resources that can help athletes reach their full potential. This applies to all sporting activities in Zimbabwe. Investments in sport should be made with the government’s support. Rather not wait for athletes to struggle and make a name for themselves. Then the country shows up to claim victory.
More academies should be built and support extended to the existing ones like the Manyuchi Boxing Academy. That way, there is clearly a path for growth and the future of upcoming athletes is secure.