We’re behind you, VP Mnangagwa tells Manyuchi
VICE-PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday challenged champion boxer Charles Manyuchi to maintain his usual best form when he faces Frenchman Damien Martin in defence of his World Boxing Council silver welterweight title in Harare later this month.
Manyuchi, who became the silver champion in May this year when he defeated Russian Dmitry Mikhaylenko in his own backyard, will be fighting at home for the first time in defence of an international title.
This fight has been dedicated to President Robert Mugabe.
The 27-year-old pugilist yesterday paid a visit to Vice-President Mnangagwa’s offices ahead of a scheduled trip, later in the day, to Zambia for his final preparations.
Manyuchi, who was accompanied by his local training team and the Minister of Sport and Recreation Makhosini Hlongwane, charmed the VicePresident when he presented his three international accolades which include the WBC silver welterweight championship, the WBC International belt and the African Boxing Union title.
He was also upbeat ahead of his next fight against Martin in exactly three weeks’ time at the Harare International Conference Centre.
Vice-President Mnangagwa assured Manyuchi of maximum support and promised that the Government would honour its pledge to make the fight a success.
“We are very much appreciative of your exploits and we are very proud that you have raised the flag of Zimbabwe very high. And, as you go for training in Zambia, we wish you well and when the tournament comes to Zimbabwe at the end of the month we will be there to support you.
“Since you are dedicating this fight to His Excellency the President, my young brother please win the fight.
“There are certain challenges that we face; that the Sports Commission faces, your Minister (Hlongwane) has briefed me and we shall discuss those issues elsewhere.
“But we wish you well. We shall convey this message to His Excellency that you have gone to Zambia to train in order to make sure when the fight comes here at the end of the month you will win it.
“In fact, it’s the President who said he wanted the fight to come to Zimbabwe and not (to be staged in) France. So we feel proud because this is the first time that we are going to host a world championship tournament in Zimbabwe.
“So have our hearts and our best wishes and I think every Zimbabwean will be praying for you. Travel well, the Minister will look into some of the challenges you have been mentioning and we will assist the Minister to resolve those challenges,” said Mnangagwa.
Manyuchi said the next three weeks would be crucial for him.
The boxer an warmed up to the big fight with a win over Tanzanian Samuel Deogratias recently in Zambia.
“I am ready to defend it because the President promised me that the Government of Zimbabwe is going to host the title defence. So I am happy for this send-off. I need to go and prepare for this tough and crucial fight and the only thing that I can promise you VicePresident is that I am a winner,” said Manyuchi.
Hlongwane said the Government and the corporate world are joining hands to support t h e international bout. Preparations are at an advanced stage and Manyuchi’s promoters from Oriental Quarries Boxing Promotion of Zambia were in the country last week to boost the progress. Hlongwane told the Vice-President that the match is likely to attract a capacity crowd at the HICC. “Having won the WBC silver welterweight championship (in Russia), we sat down and agreed with Manyuchi and his promoters and we agreed that his defence of the title, he should not just have it in Zimbabwe but he should have it in honour of His Excellency, the President. “So he is going to be having on the 30th of this month the defence of his title and I have come with him as he leaves today (yesterday) for Zambia to go and resume camp in preparation for that all-important fight so that he should be successful in defending his title before what we think is going to be a capacity crowd. “There are crucial issues around, obviously the mobilization of corporate sector resources as well as Government resources will go a long way in terms of assuring the success of the tournament,” said Hlongwane.