WORLD Boxing Council welterweight champion Charles Manyuchi yesterday received $50 000 cash from President Robert Mugabe as a reward for defending his title.
The Masvingo-born boxer successfully defended his title when he dismantled Italian Gianculla Frezza in the sixth round in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy, a fortnight ago.
Manyuchi was handed the money stockpiled in an envelope, at a function at State House.
Mugabe, who has previously rewarded other sportspersons like Olympic gold swimming medallist Kirsty Coventry ($100 000), three-time Comrades Marathon winner Stephen Muzhingi ($50 000) and the Mighty Warriors, expressed gratitude to Manyuchi’s promoters Oriental Quarries Boxing Promotions of Zambia, his parents and his local sponsors for helping the boxer to reach this current level.
“Charles, congratulations, you did the nation proud and keep on flying our flag higher and higher until you reach that planet that they say they recently discovered which they say is close in features to our Earth and they say it has water to drink. I want to say, on behalf of the government and the people of Zimbabwe, we congratulate you, your parents, as well as your siblings, your friends and in a great way the stable (that has made you what you are). Those who run your stable, your coach, and, of course, Zambia as our twin, they have done us proud, all have done us proud. And in a small way, although our hearts are much larger in gratitude, we give you as a token of appreciation this little parcel. Share it with your wife because she is part of you,” Mugabe said.
Manyuchi, who has long been crying for government recognition, thanked Mugabe for the gesture.
“Thank you for everything, I’m humbled by your support. The ambition I have is to go to the top like my country Zimbabwe. The direction is always up, forward and backwards never. Our sights now are on the horizon where the silver title is. Our belief is that our house Zimbabwe will look nice with a silver title,” Manyuchi said.
Manyuchi, who has a welterweight bronze title, has now set his sights on British boxer Amir Khan, who hold the world silver title in the welterweight ranks.
The welterweight gold title is held by American boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather.
Mugabe said the government would continue to support sport, although the situation on the ground shows otherwise.
Government has given very little support to national teams in recent times and this led to the Mighty Warriors’ failure to travel to Ivory Coast last week to fulfill an Olympic qualifier after failing to raise $34 000 for airfares .
The Warriors were recently booted out of the 2018 World Cup draw due to a $67 000 debt owed to former Warriors Brazilian-born coach Valinhos while the Young Warriors this week went on strike over shortage of food in the camp. The team’s trip to South Africa for this weekend’s Olympic qualifier is in doubt.
“Sport is also important in the socio-economic development of a nation and in the improvement of people and the community’s livelihoods. Government is aware that the development of sport requires much investment and training, equipment and infrastructure. It is our hope that our new policy framework will set the stage for the development of sport into a viable industry which will contribute towards employment creation and economic development,” added Mugabe.
The function was attended by several government officials including Acting Sports minister Supa Mandiwanzira and his Tourism counterpart Walter Mzembi, who blasted the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority for nearly confiscating Manyuchi’s trophy at Harare International Airport on his return from Italy.