EDITORIAL COMMENT: Local boxing putting Zim back on global stage

The Herald

The World Boxing Council (WBC) interim super-bantamweight title fight is coming to Zimbabwe for the first time this year.

The country’s boxing queen Kudakwashe “Take Money” Chiwandire is hosting Mexican Zulina Munoz in a mandatory defense contest at the Harare International Conference Center on August 20.

This is a proud moment for the nation to reflect on the progress made in the sport, especially by empowering the girl child to take up boxing as a sport and a possible career.

This sport used to be a preserve for men. But of late we have also seen girls getting involved from the grassroots and going even high up as bringing a world title to Zimbabwe.

Kudos should be given to the Zimbabwe National Boxing and Wrestling Board, the promoters, sponsors and many other stakeholders that have taken it upon themselves to make sure the sport has survived challenges faced by the sport over the course of time.

A few years back we were celebrating another champion in Charles Manyuchi, who also went out of his way to claim the WBC welterweight silver belt after beating Russian Dmitry Mikhailenko in Yekaterinburg.

Although he went on to lose the title, Manyuchi has established himself as one of the best boxers in Southern Africa.

With that, we can safely say boxing is still alive and well in Zimbabwe, despite the various challenges.

Chiwandire has just given the nation renewed hope in the sport that was made popular in the past by the likes of Proud “Kilimanjaro” Chinembiri, Langton “Schoolboy” Tinago and Zvenyika “Mosquito” Arifonso.

It has also come with financial rewards for her after she was handed a US$15 000 token by President Mnangagwa for her success.

Chiwandire staged a big act away from home when she defeated Zambian star Catherine Phiri to become Zimbabwe’s first ever gold title winner in boxing.

The win has brought with it more opportunities for Zimbabwe. Many girls will be inspired. But what is more important is that the country will be on the limelight ahead of the scheduled title defense.

This is a big event for Zimbabwe. The tournament , the first such for Zimbabwe and third for Africa , is dubbed “Fire in the Hole”, and has nine supporting bouts which include two African Boxing Union matches and a national title fight.

The Government, through the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, has since pledged to provide financial and technical support for this mega-event whose budget has been set at US$197 000.

A number of corporates are also expected to come on board to support with KGK Logistics, Genau, Gypsite, Carso5 and Pro Fitness having already subscribed to a partnership Apart from the Latin American opponent for the main bout (Munoz), other countries participating in this The tournament are Namibia, South Africa, the DRC, Zambia, Malawi, Botswana and Kenya.

Chiwandire, who hails from poor background, has had her life changed as she is guaranteed to walk home US$20 000 richer after the event.

Even Sports Minister, Kirsty Coventry, harped on the importance of the event both economically and in terms of mileage for the country.

The event will increase continental and global visibility of the country through media coverage which will be shared in over 190 countries affiliated to the WBC. It is an opportunity to take the Zimbabwean story from a Zimbabwean perspective.

As such, there is the possibility of a contribution to the generation of revenue through media rights, sponsorship, partnerships and live streaming.

An estimate revenue of at least US$250 000 will be generated directly through tourism receipts and, indirectly, through other economic activities around this event.

To show the enormity of this fight, Chiwandire faces an opponent rated the third best active female bantamweight boxer in the world.

The improved performance of the sport of boxing in the country, hinged on a creation of opportunities through activity, will only lead to the participation of more of our athletes in continental and international fights.

We can do more as a nation by investing more in supporting sports and supporting our athletes achieve they full potential. The more our athletes shine, the more the Zimbabwean flag is hoisted among nations.

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