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ZIMBABWE’S amateur boxing fraternity was yesterday plunged into mourning following the death of long-serving administrator and veteran coach Petros Masiyambumbi.Masiyambumbi died at United Bulawayo Hospitals where he had been in and out since January.

He was 52.

The Sport and Recreation Commission announced Masiyambumbi’s death yesterday and described it as a huge blow to boxing in the country.

Masiyambumbi had for more than a decade worked closely with the Sports Commission and the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee and was a familiar figure in the line-ups of Team Zimbabwe’s boxing crew to such competitions as the African Games, Commonwealth Games and African Union Sports Council Youth Games.

The Commission indicated that funeral arrangements were still to be finalised and mourners are gathered at House Number 656 Nketa 6, Bulawayo.

Sports Commission director-general Charles Nhemachena expressed sorrow over the death of the veteran boxing trainer.

“It is with a very heavy heart that we learnt of the death of Petros Masiyambumbi, the Zimbabwe Boxing Association technical director this morning.

“Petros had not been well since the beginning of the year and had been in and out of hospital, but we were all convinced that he was going to be well but sadly that was not to be.

“This is not a sad loss only to his dear wife and children and the boxing community which he diligently served, but also to the entire sporting family.

“Petros will be remembered as a dedicated sport practitioner who would go out of his way to sacrifice for his beloved sport of boxing.

“His contributions to some of the programme we undertook with him like the National Youth Games remain immeasurable and invaluable,” said Nhemachena.

Masiyambumbi groomed a lot of boxers when he worked with them as amateurs especially at the Zimbabwe National Army boxing club.

Pugilists such Clyde Musonda, Anyhwere Gatsi, Shinga Tom and Victor Masunga and even his sons Stephen Masiyambumbi and Forster worked with the renowned trainer in their formative years.

Masiyambumbi’s last major involvement with boxing was when he worked with the boxing squad at African Union Region Five Under-20 Games in Bulawayo last year before he was forced to take a back seat because of failing health.

“He was the boxing team manager and helped them to win five medals and our hope was that he was going to continue with the work at the African Games in Congo-Brazzaville, but sadly this was not to be.

“On behalf of the Sports Commission, we would like to express our heartfelt condolences to the Masiyambumbi family and the boxing community on the sad loss of a dedicated cadre who was always willing to go beyond the call of duty,” said Nhemachena.

Musonda, who worked with Masiyambumbi said he owes most of the things he knows in boxing to Masiyambumbi.

“I started working with him as a junior boxer in 1989. He was a coach at the army school of sports and I was still a civilian then.

“It was Masiyambumbi who helped me to secure employment with the army in 1997 where I worked until I resigned in 2008.

“We worked together at the army school of sports and he was my trainer when we went for the army games in Tunisia and the Commonwealth Games in Malaysia. Later he groomed me to be a coach, judge and referee and now I owe a lot to his training,” said Musonda, who now runs Delta Force Boxing Stable.

Another boxing trainer, Issa Phiri of Hard Rock said Masiyambumbi’s death has robbed the sport of a dedicated personality.

“I am a coach for professional boxers, but we had been interacting with Masiyambumbi over the years.

“He is one person who has been in boxing for some time and his knowledge of the sport was invaluable.

“I closely worked with him when I was the national team assistant coach in 2002 and 2003 and he was the head coach,” said Phiri.

Former Zimbabwe Boxing Control Board secretary Patrick Mukondiwa said local boxing will never be the same without Masiyambumbi.

“He had his bias towards amateur boxers and we always argued that he was supposed to let the good boxers graduate as pros. Petros loved boxing and did all he could to develop the sport,” said Mukondiwa.

Source : The Herald