The Sunday Mail
IT is eight months before the second Olympic boxing qualifiers in France, but the Zimbabwe Boxing Federation are already panicking.
They have every reason to press the panic button.
The last time Zimbabwe sent boxers for the qualifiers, it was chaos from the beginning to the end.
Zimbabwe’s team that went for the Olympic qualifiers in Senegal in March had the worst of preparations.
The boxers camped at coach Alexander Kwangwari’s house in Chitungwiza with scant resources, and when they finally boarded the plane to Dakar, they couldn’t even afford a decent kit.
Subsequently, no boxer from Zimbabwe qualified for the Olympics.
The best they achieved was a quarter-final berth. Brenda “Boika” Denes (lightweight), Ndabezihle Phiri (flyweight) and Freeman Mabvongwe (lightweight) represented Team Zimbabwe.
Another opportunity has, however, opened up with yet another round of qualifiers now set for France in May next year.
Tashinga Manyika (heavyweight), Thomas Jojo (welterweight), Zibusiso Nyoni (lightweight), Trade Nkomozabo (featherweight), Ndabezihle Phiri (flyweight), Mandlenkosi Marusenga (lightweight) and Bongani Makovama (featherweight) are the confirmed boxers who will represent Zimbabwe in France.
“The last time out, as you know, it was a disaster. We had poor preparations; at some point I had to use my personal money to keep the boys motivated.
“So we are pleading for enough financial support this time. The qualifiers might seem to be still far, but early preparations are key,” said Kwangwari.
“At the end of the day, people will look only at results and not the preparations. We are talking of Olympic boxing, a platform that can put Zimbabwe on the world map, so I am hoping this time around we will get support from well-wishers.
“With proper support, Zimbabwean boxers can impress on the world stage. We are capable of producing boxers who can even go on and win professional world boxing titles in the future.
“However, there seems to be lack of interest in the sport. There is no financial support for amateur boxing,” lamented Kwangwari.
The last time Zimbabwe had boxers at the Olympics was in 1996 when Kwangwari and Arson Mapfumo (late) qualified.
Zimbabwe Boxing Federation (amateur) secretary, Arvian Mathe, said the plan was to send a delegation of 18 people to France.
“The plan is to send 13 boxers and five officials, including three coaches, but we seriously need financial assistance to cover camping, air tickets, accommodation and kits,” said Mathe.