WORLD Boxing Council welterweight bronze champion Charles Manyuchi, who recently defended his crown in Italy, yesterday realised his dream of meeting President Mugabe, who pledged to host a bash for him at State House next Thursday.
Manyuchi’s bronze crown is the third in the WBC perking order after the gold and silver crowns currently held by pound-for-pound champion Flyod Mayweather Jr and Briton Amir Khan, respectively.
President Mugabe met Manyuchi at his Munhumutapa offices before he proceeded to chair Cabinet.
Also present at the meeting were Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, Acting Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Supa Mandiwanzira, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda and Sport, Arts and Culture deputy Minister Tabetha Kanengoni-Malinga.
An elated Manyuchi, who longed to meet the President, was at a loss for words and refused to say much in the President’s presence.
Even Manyuchi’s parents and sponsors could not pronounce anything when President Mugabe entered the room.
Realising the uneasiness, President Mugabe left everyone in stitches after teasing Manyuchi with a mock jab, saying that was how he greeted champions.
Said the President: “Tiri kubva kubhavhudhe (First Lady Amai Mugabe’s birthday) kuno kune rimwezve
“Ko baba naamai (Manyuchi) varipi? Manje izvi munozvigonawo here kana kuti ndezvakewo ega (We are coming from a birthday (the First Lady’s) and here there is another. Where is Manyuchi’s father and mother? Are you able to do what he does or it’s his talent alone?),” joked the President.
After everyone was relaxed and settled as the President cracked another joke.
“I thought we should raise his (Manyuchi) status . . . not to a Cabinet minister, but to a champion of the country. A champion of Zimbabwe and Zambia,” he said.
“Manje amai munonozvitambira here izvi? Ndezvekurovanaka izvi. Vamwe vana mai havadi kuona mwana wavo achirohwa (Mrs Manyuchi can you handle this? Some mother’s do not want to see their child being beaten?)”
The President said Manyuchi was now a role model to many youngsters interested in boxing. The President said he was also a boxing fan.
“On behalf of Government and in this particular case that leadership, which Government has this is a Cabinet how pleased I was to hear that there was victory,” he said.
“It was good news I never expected because I never knew him. I was never told that we have a champion who was going to fight an Italian.
“You have done us immense honour. We are proud of you son of Zimbabwe and Zambia. You are a model to others. Our people like boxing but at times they lack training. We do not have gyms and so on.”
The President paid tribute to Manyuchi’s Zambian promoters saying Zimbabwe and Zambia were Siamese twins.
As such, the President said his Zambian counterpart President Edgar Lungu, was going to open this year’s edition of the Harare Agricultural Show next month.
“President Lungu is coming. He is coming to open our Agricultural Show in August and also when we became independent, the anniversary match we had was with Zambia and they beat us. I remember them saying you play well but you lack experience.”
He said Zimbabwe only used to have hard boxing and it was in Bulawayo where boxing was largely promoted.
President Mugabe said there were some brilliant boxers, but they lacked proper training and at times could not last more than three rounds.
He later tasked Minister Mandiwanzira and deputy Minister Kanengoni-Malinga to organise Thursday’s bash adding that they should also invite other boxers and boxing clubs in the country.
Manyuchi’s Zambian promoter Chris Malunga, described how Manyuchi outclassed his challenger Gianluca Frezza.
He said they discovered that Frezza was weak on the lower part of the stomach and Manyuchi continuously punched him on that part.
“He (Manyuchi) continued hitting the stomach with a Zanu-PF punch and in round six the challenger said I don’t want,” he said.
“He told the referee that he had had enough and Manyuchi was declared a winner by a technical knockout.”
Malunga said he would soon travel to China to bid for a fight with second category champion Amir Khan.
He said it was their wish that President Mugabe attend one of their fighting promotions to which the President responded: ‘’Especially the one versus the Briton.”
Manyuchi said: I have nothing much to say otherwise I may end up saying things that are off topic save to say I am really overjoyed.
“It was my wish to meet the President and I have seen him meeting other people such as Kirsty Coventry and I said I should also do the same,” he said.
Manyuchi’s father Otis, bemoaned the lack of support by local boxing organisations.
He said although the country was facing financial challenges, it was important to give talented people moral support.
Mr Manyuchi a former soldier and boxer said Charles’ twin sister was also a boxer.
He said he used to discourage Charles from boxing saying he wanted his son to pursue other business interests.
“I did not want him to join boxing but as you know with kids he always find his way,” said Mr Manyuchi.
“After his fight in Namibia that is when i was called by his Zambian promoters saying we should work together and develop his talent.”
Mr Manyuchi however paid tribute to the Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture for supporting his son upon his arrival from Italy.
Manyuchi has won 23 professional fights and has an amateur record of 37 fights.
He bagged four gold medals at the Youth games.
Manyuchi is now ranked number 20 in the world.
Minister Mandiwanzira said: ‘The young man is set for greater things as he sets eyes on the World Boxing Council silver championship and ultimately the world championship currently held by Amir Khan of Great Britain and Floyd Mayweather of the United States respectively.
“He has done us proud as a nation and he has also been a good ambassador.”
After the meeting, President Mugabe took Manyuchi to the Cabinet room where he greeted all Cabinet ministers who congratulated him for flying Zimbabwe’s flag high.