Home » Sports » ’Cry My Beloved Charlie’ [opinion]

I READ a heart-breaking article in Tuesday’s Herald on World Boxing Council welterweight International champion Charles Manyuchi. My heart bled for the young man. In recent years, I took up boxing, punching rather, as part of my training regime. I know how excruciating the exercises are. They need courage, determination and perseverance.

It is one sport not for the weak and faint hearted.

I thought to myself that we are not talking of a national, regional, continental or commonwealth champion here but WORLD champion. A feat not achieved by anyone in the history of our country’s boxing.

This is a person in a level just below that of the legendary Floyd “Money” Mayweather.

However, if world boxing champions were to be called to diner, Charles Manyuchi would be among them.

If Mayweather was to visit this nation, I just imagined the noise that would come from all quarters, be it sport, political, youth, indigenisation, humanitarian or tourism.

Almost everyone would want to be associated with that visit everyone would want a piece of Mayweather.

I wouldn’t be an exception.

But it got me thinking about the similar person we have in our midst — Charles Manyuchi.

How have we treated him since that famous day when he defeated Ghana’s Patrick Allotey?

Everything that has been done has been low key. Why? This is a World Champion for goodness sake.

I realised how true Jesus words were when he said in Matthew 13 verse 57, “a prophet is not without honour except in his own country and in his own house.”

Even our rich Shona said it well, “kakomo karemera kevarikure, vari pedo vanotamba nako.”

Our own Charles Manyuchi is a sporting hero in Zambia but not here in Zimbabwe.

This is shameful to say the least. It got me thinking of all the people we celebrated for “some big” achievements. The classical one is the US$300,000.00 we gave Munyaradzi Chidzonga for almost winning Big Brother, coming out second to be precise.

There were genuine concerns that the voting had been rigged.

The term ‘Diamond boy’ was coined for him. We raised the standards of celebrating our heroes by that feat. I believe everybody else expected the same or even more if they were to achieve something similar or even bigger.

How come everyone choose to ignore Charles Manyuchi, the World Boxing Council welterweight International champion?

The Ministries of Sport, Tourism and Youth and Indigenisation should play their active role to rightly honour this man.

Tourism Minister Mzembi received Manyuchi at a rather low key reception. No rewards, nothing.

Manyuchi even mentioned that his wish was to meet the President and one hopes his dream comes true.

Sports Minister, Andrew Langa should be using Manyuchi’s success to help revive the sport that has been on death bed for decades now.

After giving it a deeper thought I then realised that whether we like it or not, there is a division in terms of sporting disciplines in this country.

There are sports for the elite and sports for the poor. Cricket, tennis, swimming, hockey and rugby are among those deemed to be for the elite. Soccer, netball, volleyball, basketball, karate and boxing are among the ones for the poor.

The saddest thing is not the division but the prominence we give to association with the sporting disciplines for the elite.

Unfortunately, we do so subconsciously.

That’s why everyone clamoured for Big Brother participants the same way they clamoured for Kirsty Coventry when she won the Olympics, the Black family during their exploits in tennis, the cricket team, and the hockey golden girls.

It’s sad because we then ignored one of our own, a world champion.

That we did without noticing, a subconscious decision, and an automatic refusal to be associated with the poor men’s sport.

I even asked one of our esteemed parliamentarians if he knew Charles Manyuchi to which he said a big NO.

It actually brings painful memories of how we ignored the Kyokushinkan karatekas when Sensei Samson Muripo won the world championship.

Sensei Mugove Muhambi had done considerably well in that same competition.

Sadly, not even a single Ministry hailed these guys. In actual fact, we ignored a world champion. Why?

Because they belong to the poor men’s sporting discipline, ones we subconsciously choose not to associate with?

Let’s compare ourselves with Zambia.

On the same day, a lady boxer won and immediately she was rewarded with US$25 000.00. On top of that a 12-roomed house is being built for her. That’s life changing in an instant.

Across Zambezi River, the opposite is happening. A World Champion gets nothing. Is this the best way to encourage future boxing champions?

This is a big challenge for Langa who chose to meet the beleaguered Zifa board led by Cuthbert Dube on the same day Masvingo was holding a low key ceremony for their hero.

If my wish was to be granted Langa and Mzembi should grant Charles Manyuchi a celebration worth a world champion with matching rewards.

If Manyuchi is not bestowed a Zimbabwe brand sporting ambassador, then who is deserving?

It’s shameful enough that he was trained in Zambia but to shun him after putting Zimbabwe on the world map is inhuman.

Imagine if this guy was South African?

They would be campaigning for him at have a shot at the legendary Mayweather.

Imagine the endorsements he would get from companies. What have food and nutrition companies in this country done?

Nothing!

He is from the poor men’s sporting discipline.

Who would blame Manyuchi if he was to switch allegiance and apply for a Zambian passport?

Bothwell Mahlengwe is a banker and a former Premiership footballer.

Source : The Herald

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