The Sunday Mail
WHAT a special and hectic week it has been for the lady of the moment, Kudakwashe “Take Money” Chiwandire.
The new World Boxing Council Interim World Female Super Bantamweight champion is basking in glory after booking her place on the global female boxing’s top table, with a stunning win over pre-bout favourite Catherine Phiri in Lusaka, Zambia last weekend.
The veteran Phiri, a former holder of the WBC Super Bantamweight gold belt, went into the fight ranked third on the WBC ratings while Chiwandire was virtually unknown in the elite circles of female boxing.
However, the 26 year-old Mbare-born and Highfield-bred surprised the bookmakers with a points win against a 35-year-old Phiri.
Phiri’s swollen eyes after the bout were a clear testimony of the torture she was exposed to by the Zimbabwean.
Suddenly, Chiwandire has become the most sought after female sports personality in the country, yet prior to the big fight, she was largely neglected and unnoticed.
She nearly travelled by road to Lusaka until funeral assurance firm, Zororo Phumulani, intervened and paid for a return air ticket for Chiwandire and her trainer/manager Clyde Musonda.
Some Government officials, popular personalities, local boxers and fans jostled for Kodak moments with Chiwandire at Robert Mugabe International Airport on her return home on Monday.
It was a rousing welcome that was in stark contrast to her low key send-off ahead of the battle in Lusaka.
But that has somehow, always, been the plight of Zimbabwean sports personalities especially women.
Yet they have, over the years, proven their capability to lift the Zimbabwean flag high on the international stages.
The senior women’s football team made history when they qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
They remain the only national football team to qualify for a major global tournament. Yet, their preparations for games and tournaments have always been shoddy, to an extent that at some point they lived a squalid life in camp at the ZIFA village.
In one incident, the players were paid US$5 each after a match and most, if not all of the promises made to them post Rio, are yet to be fulfilled.
Chiwandire fell into the same pit.
There was no sponsorship stampede amongst the corporate world in the run up to her fight but now that she has won a prestigious belt, it will not be surprising to witness a scramble for her signature.
It will not be a surprise if soon Chiwandire is named some brand ambassador and her face splashed on billboards as corporates jostle to maximise on the mileage that will come with associating with a world boxing champion.
Nonetheless, what Chiwandire needs now is to utilise her moment in the sun and make money.
She is now the top ranked female Super Bantamweight boxer on the continent.
Chiwandire is now ranked the eighth best Super Bantamweight boxer in the world by Boxrec.
Phiri is ranked ninth, her compatriot Ellen Simwaka is 10th while fellow Chiwandire’s fellow Zimbabwean Zvikomborero Danzwa is 18th.
Mexican Jackie Nava, who holds the WBC Diamond Female Super Bantamweight title, is ranked the best in the world by Boxrec.
Prior to her win against Phiri, Chiwandire was not rated by the WBC but the Zimbabwean will certainly be recognised by the prestigious sanctioning body when they release their March rankings.
She will most likely overtake Phiri, who was ranked third in the world on the WBC’s January ratings.
Chiwandire’s belt is even more powerful than Charles Manyuchi’s WBC Silver Welterweight, which he captured in 2016.
However, Chiwandire is not a WBC gold champion.
The holder of the WBC Super Bantamweight gold title is Yamileth Mercado of Mexico.
Chiwandire is an interim champion and her title is there because the champion Mercado has failed to defend the gold title in the stipulated three to six months’ time frame.
Mercado last defended her title on June 26, 2021 against Angelica Rascon of the United States of America.
“Kuda (Chiwandire) is a world champion but on an interim basis because the holder of the gold belt has not defended her title for various reasons,” explained Zimbabwean boxing expert, Fellow Nousenga.
“Should Mercado be stripped of her title, then Chiwandire will become the first Zimbabwean to hold the WBC gold belt’’.
The fear though is that all this fame could count for nothing.
Just like her moniker, Chiwandire now needs to take money, not the paltry US$1 000 she pocketed after defeating Phiri.
Boxing has become a game of numbers and figures especially after the growth of pay per view television stations such as Showtime who have billions of viewers across the globe.
With proper handling and promotion, Chiwandire could even fight for the gold belt against Mercado, or defend her interim title in a lucrative fight in the Americas or Europe.
Local trainer and promoter, Musonda, has done really well in uplifting Chiwandire.
He has managed to expose the girl to the global arena.
But with her feat she now needs a management crew, who can link her up with globally recognised promoters with the capacity to negotiate lucrative fights.
Sources told the Sunday Mail Sport that Chiwandire might defend her interim title in Canada with figures in the region US$50 000 being thrown around.
Boxing has changed, it’s no longer about rankings but personalities who attract large viewership, so Chiwandire has got to be packaged into that type of a boxer.
Now is her time to make money and indeed she has to make hay whilst the sun still shines.