International boxing champion Charles Manyuchi broke down as he revealed how he used to have to steal sugar cane from the estate he worked on as a general hand just to have something to eat before going to bed.The World Boxing Council silver welterweight champ last week visited Masvingo to donate boxing equipment as well as pay homage to his first promoter, Edison Zvobgo Jr.
Zvobgo Jr housed Manyuchi at one of his hotels for over four years, and the pugilist said he was eternally indebted to the businessman.
“Most of you do not even know that I once worked in a sugar cane plantation in Triangle and things were tough back then. Getting a decent meal was difficult and I remember sometimes we would steal sugar cane for supper.
“I get so emotional when I start talking about my past,” Manyuchi told students at Victoria High School where he donated boxing equipment.
“My father was a soldier and we were eight in our family so getting everything we wanted was difficult for our parents,” he added.
After the Victoria High School engagement, the prize fighter’s convoy headed to Chevron Hotel where he paid homage to his “father”, Zvobgo Jr.
Manyuchi could not control his tears when Zvobgo Jr took him to Room 19, the one he stayed in for over 1 400 days.
“This is where it all started. I stayed in this room for four years. If Zvobgo was to bill me for all the days I stayed in his hotel, the amount would run into hundreds of thousands of dollars. I can’t repay him with money; all I can give him is my heart,” he said.
Manyuchi recalled the day he set foot in Masvingo City.
“I left Triangle around 2008 when Zvobgo Jr invited me to Masvingo. I was dazzled by the lights and buildings. I could not believe it was me, Charles Manyuchi, living in such a hotel,” said the boxer.
Zvobgo Jr said as he watched Manyuchi secure a stunning victory over then Zimbabwe lightweight champ Isaac Phonkheni at Raylton Sports Club on February 14, 2009, he knew he had stumbled upon “something big”.
“We were invited for a fight in Harare and it was Charlie’s first bout as a professional. However, his opponent did not turn up and it so happened that Phonkeni’s challenger also failed to pitch up. Phonkeni then requested a fight with Charles and the crowd protested as it was a clear mismatch because Manyuchi was just turning pro.
“I asked Charlie whether he wanted to step into the ring and his answer was a solid yes. I said go for it. He beat the champion in his first professional fight.
“That was the kind of thing that gave me confidence, it told me that here I might have something big. He had enormous discipline, enormous dedication, you could tell he would go far. He impressed me and I took him on board. I funded his training and trips to bouts up until 2012 when Oriental Quarries of Zambia signed him,” he said.
Zvobgo Jr hailed Manyuchi for remembering his roots.
“I am happy he he has come back home. I want to thank his sponsor Mr T35 for giving him the advice to remember his roots.”
The Sunday Mail