The Sunday Mail
STRAIGHT out of the Mashonaland East town of Chivhu, hails the woman behind Charles Manyuchi’s revival bid and she is seeing no boundaries in her push to see boxing scale new heights. She sees herself as “a man in this business.”
Prosper Chibaya, the latest female boxing promoter after the renowned Lorraine “Iron Lady” Muringi, is the force behind the Charles Manyuchi Sports Academy, a stable that now boasts of three international belts.
Manyuchi, the former World Boxing Council Silver welterweight champion who has embarked on a restoration path as he seeks a return to international boxing’s high table, recently claimed the Global Boxing Union/UBC middleweight titles.
Rising female pugilist, the multi-talented Kudakwashe Chiwandire, now holds the Women’s International Boxing Association bantamweight after beating Joyce Chileshe of Zambia at the Harare International Conference Centre on May 25. On the same night her stable mate Hassan Milanzi captured the UBC super bantamweight after dismissing Philemon Hara of Zambia via a unanimous decision after 12 rounds of action.
Now, the 48-year-old Chibaya who says her interest in the sport lit up after a chance meeting with Manyuchi back in 2016, is bracing for her biggest boxing night — Manyuchi’s assault at the World Boxing Federation middleweight world title.
The 29-year-old Manyuchi takes on Frenchman Nordine Arik on September 28 at the Harare International Conference Centre with the winner getting a chance to become the number one challenger for the prestigious WBC Silver title.
“I feel proud, although some time back I didn’t understand the value of it (boxing). I am new in the game, still learning more about it.
“I just hear people acknowledging my contribution in boxing, that’s when I start feeling like I am doing something great for the sport,” Chibaya told The Sunday Mail sport.
With no funding or any corporate support, and still a novice in the art of boxing promotion, Chibaya managed to send some of her amateur boxers to Mozambique for the 2016 Zone 4 games, as she began the baby steps towards realising her dream.
“That’s how we started, and we brought back two gold, three silver and two bronze medals,” she says.
“That was after I met Charlie (Manyuchi) in Chivhu. I met him at my workplace sometime in 2016 and he asked me, as someone who ran businesses in Chivhu, if I could join him as co-director of the Charles Manyuchi Sports Academy.
“He said he didn’t find it wise for him to engage someone from outside Chivhu. We did a ground breaking ceremony, after that we then signed seven boxers who were then still amateurs. “And I am glad we now have three international champions,” said Chibaya.
Some now call her boxing’s “First Lady” and the fraternity is oozing as anticipation for a Manyuchi comeback reaches a crescendo following his victory over Pablo Ezequiel Acosta of Argentina on Africa Day.
“September 28 is something big, boxing fans should brace for an intriguing night. My plan is for all my boxers to have top international belts, the WBC gold belts, whatever, so that they have a living out of boxing,” says Chibaya. So, how has this Chivhu based promoter been handling the business in this male dominated industry?
“I have no challenges at all, I think I see myself as a man too,” quipped Chibaya.
“And the nice thing is that the men I work with respect me so much and really support me, which makes my job easy going.”
Perhaps Chibaya could become local boxing’s next Muringi, that former boxing promoter with Ring Promotions who ruled the roost in the 1980s and 1990s before she was elected Zimbabwe Boxing Control Board vice-president in 2013.
Muringi is understood to be living in the United States now but with Chibaya showing determination to keep boxing alive, she would be proud to know that “the flame she lit is still burning’’.