Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
GOVERNMENT is working on a policy on how best it can help, among others, sportspeople in their times of need, a Zimbabwe Boxing and Wrestling Control Board official said at the burial of boxing trainer Philip ‘Striker’ Ndlovu in Bulawayo yesterday.
The renowned boxing trainer succumbed to prostate cancer at his Ejingeni Flat in Makokoba suburb on Thursday morning after failing to get financial assistance to seek treatment for more than a year.
Ndlovu, who died at the age of 66, had been living in abject poverty and survived on mealie-meal porridge.
Speaking at a church service at Ejingeni Flats before Ndlovu’s burial at Lady Stanley Cemetery yesterday morning, Lawrence Zimbudzana, Zimbabwe Boxing and Wrestling Control Board secretary, said the Government is working on a framework that will assist artists and sports personalities in their times of need.
“There’s always an expectation on how much should have been contributed during his (Ndlovu) illness. We feel very much obligated and saddened that we could have done more in terms of supporting him during his time of need. But we must appreciate that we are living under difficult conditions and times under Covid-19 which has disrupted our economy,” said Zimbudzana.
He said efforts are underway to ensure there is a policy that defines what should be given to athletes, musicians and everyone else who needs support during their times of need.
“Government is in the process of finalising that policy so that whenever we’ve got a situation whereby a former great, champion, athlete, coach or be it anyone in the community needs assistance, there’s a framework that’s supposed to guide how the Government can intervene,” he said.
Ndlovu failed to get at least US$3 000 to undergo a trans-urethral resection of the prostate (Turp) operation to make it easier for him to pass urine after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in January last year.
Last month Ndlovu appealed for US$1 000 to buy a permanent catheter to use for dialysis after developing chronic kidney disease (CKD) but could not get the money.
Zimbudzana said Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister Kirsty Coventry, who is out of the country, had sent a condolence message and said she was saddened by the death of a champion, a great contributor to the development of youth and communities in the form of boxing.
Ndlovu received a befitting sendoff, with his burial being attended by an array of sports personalities, who included former World Boxing Association Pan African heavyweight champion Thamsanqa Dube, Zimbabwe heavyweight champion Vincent Muziri, multi-Zimbabwe National Youth Games medalist Meluleki Ngulube, Nokuthula Tshabangu and football legend Zenzo Moyo.
Zimbudzana said Ndlovu’s legacy will live on as the late trainer had contributed immensely to boxing and community development since his first involvement with the sport in 1971.
“This sendoff is truly humbling to us. Now it is up to us to carry his (Ndlovu) legacy and the best way to remember him is to take the sport forward. Judging by the turnout at this service, it truly shows that Ndlovu was a hero and made an impact in people’s lives,” said Zimbudzana.
Sports and Recreation Commission’s (SRC) provincial coordinator for Bulawayo Sam Dzvimbu challenged Ndlovu’s protégé, Dube to consider using the experience he got from the late trainer to assist up and coming boxers.
“Striker was a pot of wisdom among boxing administrators. When the Zimbabwe National Youth Games started in 2003, most boxers were from Tshaka Youth Centre where Striker coached. Bulawayo dominated the games, coming either first or second, with most medals being from boxing.
“We will miss him but his works will live forever. I’m quite sure that his former boxers will continue his work. The challenge is on you Thamsanqa (Dube) to take over from where he left,” said Dzvimbu.
Lovemore Dube from the Sports Journalist Association, Southern Region (SpojaSR), who worked with Ndlovu as a promoter in the 1990s, said he was hurt that the trainer died a poor man.
He recalled the opportunities Ndlovu presented to local boxers who include those who went on to fight for Commonwealth titles.
“Through our promotions with Ndlovu responsible for the technical side, we gave boxers a platform to excel. We had Sipho Moyo (late) fighting for Commonwealth title in London, Tshabangu also got that opportunity. A number of champions who include Thamsanqa Dube, Zimbabwe heavyweight champion Vincent Muziri, Ambrose Mlilo, Mordecai Donga and Fredrick Chisoro came Tshaka Youth Centre after being trained by Ndlovu.
“In the amateur ranks, there are more than a dozen boxers that Ndlovu groomed, among them Maqhawe Ndlovu, Ntando Sibanda and Meluleki Ngulube, who has a unique boxing story in the sense that from primary school to Form Four, he participated in the National Youth games and won accolades. Striker died a poor man because he was honest in discharging his duties. He was a champion of fairness during a time some promoters were cheating by using weak boxers to promote their preferred fighters in order to get higher rankings,” said Dube. — @ZililoR