HARARE – To those who know him best, Charles Manyuchi always had the ability and ambition he needed to make his journey from a back street boy from Mutoko to one of the best welterweight punchers in the world.
But, even for someone as gifted as the champion pugilist, those attributes on their own might not have been enough.
Ahead of his World Boxing Council (WBC) silver welterweight title defence on March 25 against Uzbekistan’s Qudratillo Abduqaxorov in Singapore, the 27-year-old says his career would not be complete without two people he has rarely thanked.
The first is Ali “Otto” Phiri, a former lightweight local boxer, and one of his oldest friends.
Writing on his Facebook page, Manyuchi reflected on how he arrived in Zambia five years ago with nothing to declare but his talent.
He did not own a pair of gloves and the shoes he wore were borrowed.
THE START: Manyuchi on the day he first travelled to Zambian to join up with Oriental Quarries Boxing Promotions.
“The travelling bag I had was not mine, the shoes I was wearing where not mine, the gloves I was carrying I had been given by Ali Phiri,” Manyuchi said.
“That is the day I decided to try my luck in Zambia. That was five years ago. I boarded a bus and I have never looked back.”
His remarks immediately struck a chord with Phiri.
“We have always been friends with Charles,” Phiri told the Daily News on Sunday.
“And when he came to tell me about the deal in Zambia and that he was not sure whether to take it or not I advised ‘you have nothing to lose’.”
Manyuchi also gave a sneak preview into the life he lived growing up.
“I can’t hold my tears,” he wrote.
“There was a time my mum used to hide under the bed… because she didn’t have money to pay rent. The only way was to hide and we tell the landlord that mum is not around (we would do this) until we pay the landlord. I love my mum,” Manyuchi added.
Manyuchi’s father Ottis who is also his local trainer, said his son had experienced both sides of the world but still remained humble.
“I remember when he started off he was fighting only for $100. But I was telling my son it doesn’t matter let’s just keep fighting and he has been fighting ever since. We were later approached by Oriental Quarries and they having been assisting us ever since,” Ottis said.
Manyuchi’s victories saw him receive a windfall from President Robert Mugabe, a development which left his manager believing it was the beginning of greater things to come.
MAMA I’VE MADE IT: Manyuchi, left sitting, was hosted by President Mugabe, centre, at State House in 2015.
In Zambia, Manyuchi’s popularity competes with that of the Chipolopolo squad that won the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations trophy under the captaincy of Christopher Katongo.
His Zambian promoters hold Manyuchi in high regard, saying that he is one of the finest things ever to happen to their stable.
“In Zambia he is more famous more than what you see here, he is now a star,” Manyuchi’s manager Christopher Malunga said during a recent visit to Zimbabwe.
Today Manyuchi stands out — a dynamic force, experienced in victory and ready to claim his 21st win when he faces 23-year-old Uzbek Abduqaxorov (9-0-0) in the global financial centre with the WBC world silver welterweight title on the line.