The Sunday Mail
IT’S said that behind every successful man there is a woman — a wife in most cases.
However, in Charles Manyuchi’s case that woman is his mother, Irene.
The 25-year-old World Boxing Council International welterweight champion is one of the country’s most eligible bachelors and his mom is the number one woman in his life.
They have always been close, but Irene never imagined her little boy becoming a boxer and a world beater.
“Charles was a peace-loving boy,” she reveals. “Never did we hear that he was involved in fights whether at school, in the village or on the streets.
“I never imagined he would be what he is today, a world-renowned fighter. Even when he started training boxing, he told me ‘Mother, I am only doing this to become a professional and earn a living. I am not doing this so that I can fight with people on the streets’.”
Charles successfully defended his WBC International welterweight title against Gianluca Frezza in Italy last Saturday.
He pocketed US$9 000 for that masterclass and returned home to a rapturous welcome last Wednesday to meet President Mugabe at his Munhumutapa Offices the following day.
Meeting the President has transformed Charles into a national icon, reckons Irene.
“At first I thought it was a dream and someone would wake me up, but there I was, face to face with the President,” she says.
“I will never forget it; it was all because of my son’s achievements that I got to shake the President’s hand. Charles has made our family proud, he no longer belongs to the Manyuchi clan alone, but is now a national son.”
Aware of the wiles of adoring female fans, Irene insists Charles be by her side “always when he is not in camp.”
Charles’ father Ottis, a former local boxing champion, also applies a hands-on approach.
“I am his biggest advisor. Remember I also boxed and I train him when he returns home from his base in Zambia,” he says with no little amount of pride.
“He has done me proud and seeing that all these hundreds of people have come to welcome my son makes me more gratified.
“Now I am convinced Charles can make a living out of boxing,” says the champion’s father.
Just a few weeks before his Italian job, Charles already looked destined for greatness, with the boy from Masvingo confidently predicting victory in Europe.
“I think we should raise his status . . . not to a Cabinet minister, but to a champion of the country. A champion of Zimbabwe and Zambia,” the President said last Thursday.
Even on the plane from Italy — via Dubai into South Africa, crossing into Zambia before touching down at Harare International Airport at 5pm last Wednesday — Charles was the toast of the nation.
“They even announced that a world champion was aboard when we flew from Italy to Dubai. In South Africa the airline’s staff went to the extent of popping champagne for the boy,” Charles’ Zambian manager Chris Malunga said.
The champ, who has lamented lack of local support, was touched by the reception he got this time around.
Charles was handed a Nissan Elgrand vehicle by his local sponsors Mr T35 and his meeting with the President capped it all.
And there is more to come.
President Mugabe will this Thursday host a bash for Charles at State House in Harare.
“His Excellency President Mugabe is my inspiration; he is focused and respected worldwide for his achievements yet he is humble. Meeting him was a dream come true,” the champion Charles says of his own champion.