THE ZIM government has once again laid bare its lack of seriousness towards sports after it offered boxer Charles Manyuchi just 100 litres of fuel valued at $150 as support for the boxer ahead of his World Boxing Council (WBC) title fight in Lusaka, Zambia, next month.
BY HENRY MHARA
Manyuchi was hoping for substantial support from the government, but he was shocked to discover the Sport ministry had arranged just fuel for him to travel by road to Lusaka.
The 27-year-old, who is preparing for his second defence of the WBC welterweight title against the world number seven David Avanesyan of Russia on March 28, said the government is not doing enough to support him.
Sports minister Andrew Langa was scheduled to officiate at the send-off and “sponsorship” handover ceremony, but did not turn up and the event culminated in disappointment and embarrassment for the talented boxer.
The ceremony was delayed by an hour as other sponsors, the media and Manyuchi’s team waited for the minister, who later sent a principal director in the ministry, Martin Dube, who said the minister had “to attend to other commitments”.
The stand-alone Sports ministry was established in 2013, but fortunes have not changed for local athletes and sports teams.
Manyuchi, a two-time WBC welterweight champion and African Union Boxing champion, believes he deserves better recognition and once again lashed out at the government for abandoning him.
“I want to thank the Zambians because they have been supporting me and now I’m even embarrassed of constantly thanking them as if I’m Zambian,” Manyuchi told NewsDay Sport on the sidelines of the send-off ceremony held at the ministry’s offices.
“I think Zimbabwe should do something because as it stands it is Zambia who are doing everything for me. Zambia is the best. I think they deserve to have me as a citizen. But I’m not going to change my citizenship, even though they deserve to have me because of the way they are supporting me. It makes me so sad because I feel like I don’t have a country of my own.”
There are a few local companies who have come forward to support Manyuchi, including Absolute Sports, Kenlink, Mr T35 and Body Active Gym, but Manyuchi feels he deserves more.
“These local companies who have come forward to support me have done their best because they are small companies and I really appreciate, but I think I deserve more from the big companies and government. I won’t shy from saying there has been nothing in terms of sponsorship from the government, not even a single cent. The last time they promised me heaven and earth, but I didn’t get even dust. It’s so sad,” Manyuchi said.
Relations between Manyuchi and Langa are not well, with the boxer accusing the minister of blocking him from meeting President Robert Mugabe.
Manyuchi, who is the current Sportsperson of the Year, has since last year been pushing to meet Mugabe, but he says his efforts have been frustrated by Langa, the person who is supposed to facilitate the meeting.
Turning to the WBC welterweight fight against the fancied Avanesyan, Manyuchi, who is leaving for Lusaka this week for camp, is confident.
“So far I’m happy with the progress I have made in my preparations for the fight. I have been preparing for the last two months and I’m now going for the final preparations in Zambia. I feel that I’m ready and I want to promise my fans that they should come and support me because I’m going to win.”
He added: “The fight is going to be tough against a really good boxer. I expect it to go the entire 12 rounds and I’m training for those 12 rounds. The weaker boxer will go down (get knocked out), but I think we are both strong so I expect a long fight which I will eventually win.”