Ellina Mhlanga Harare Bureau
WORLD Boxing Council International welterweight champion Charles Manyuchi is now a relieved man as his dream of defending his title was revived this week when the Ministry of Sport and Recreation intervened to help the boxer reconcile with his Zambian promoters. Manyuchi and his handlers, Oriental Quarries Boxing Promotions, parted ways towards the end of last year when his contract expired.
The Zambian promoters helped to put Manyuchi on the world map as he became the WBC international welterweight champion in 2014 when he beat Ghana’s Patrick Allotey, before defending the title in November that year when he defeated Deivis Casseres.
Last year he raised the country’s flag high as he retained his title against Italy’s Gianluca Frezza. And, without a promoter, Manyuchi’s title defence was in limbo and was running out of time, risking being stripped of the honours without a fight as he was struggling to find a challenger.
He was supposed to have defended his title by the end of this month. But after the Ministry of Sport intervened, the WBC agreed to extend the deadline. Addressing journalists at a press conference yesterday at his offices, Sport and Recreation Minister, Makhosini Hlongwane, said the two parties have agreed to bury their differences.
“On Monday the 15th of February 2016, which is this Monday, I met in my office with Chris Malunga, who is both the promoter and manager to Charles Manyuchi as well as Mike Zulu the coach. “I invited them to come to Zimbabwe so that we could discuss issues around the relationship between Charles Manyuchi and themselves. “We had a full day’s discussion which was very fruitful.
“There were obviously difficult issues that arose in as far as the relationship between Charles Manyuchi and his promoter as well as his coach are concerned. “We did feel that it was our duty as government to assist our athlete to reconcile with his promoters, his managers given the situation that was obtaining.
“It was very clear to us that given the very complicated issues that stood in the way of both Charles and his promoters it was going to be very difficult for Charles to find a different stable, another promoter to run with.
“As you know these promoters are a family and they share notes. If you are coming from another promoter in a manner that looks like you are running away from that other promoter it may not be very easy to get another one.
“And given the advice that was given to us by the Zimbabwe National Boxing Control Board, we considered the facts and decided that the best way forward for the athlete was to reconcile the differences between himself and his managers and I must say we had fruitful deliberations on Monday with both Charles and his managers.
“Charles then did request for some time to consider the issues that had been discussed, the issues that had come to the fore. “Obviously he had his own issues and yesterday he did write to me that he was appreciative of the role we had played as government to deal with the differences between his promoters and himself.
“And that, indeed, he is prepared to move on with his mangers and his promoters. “Now this is important for Charles because Charles is supposed to defend his belt, he is supposed to defend his title and without a promoter that obviously was going to be very difficult,” said Hlongwane.
The Minister, however, could not reveal the issues that led to Manyuchi and his promoters parting ways. “We have agreed myself and Charles as well as Chris that these are not matters for public consumption. We aren’t going to get into details as to what issues they are.
“Suffice to say on the basis of that character of a relationship that did exist between Charles and his promoters it was very difficult for Charles to get other promoters for that reason.
“The World Boxing Council attitude towards this process of reconciliation is very warm and it’s very good. In fact I know that they have communicated with Chris,” said Hlongwane. Manyuchi said he can now focus on preparing himself to defend his title.
“I’m very happy to share this with you guys that I’m now back to Oriental Quarries Boxing Promotion. Now I’m happy, I’m a free man. I’m ready to join them very soon and prepare for the next fight,” said Manyuchi.
Zimbabwe National Boxing Control Board member, Patrick Mkondiwa, said they were happy the WBC had agreed to give Manyuchi more time to defend the title. “And maybe as you might know he was supposed to defend his title in February, it was going to be very difficult for him to do that without a promoter.
“So the government mediated and Oriental Quarries agreed to communicate to WBC so that they could extend maybe for about six or so months for him to prepare.