The Sunday Mail
ARIFONSO ZVENYIKA, Chamunoda Musanhu, Gilbert Mushangazhike and the late Edward “Madhobha” Katsvere are all renowned local sporting athletes with one thing in common.
Not only do they all hail from the country’s oldest township, Mbare, but they were all born and bred in the same street.
To the uninitiated, Mushongandebvu Walk is just another modest street in Mbare that runs adjacent to one of the township’s most popular road, Ardbennie, but this indeed is a sports-rich lane.
It is the same street that also produced the late former Rhodesia heavyweight champion, Joao Mohammed Afonso Alfanzema, whose ring name was “Beira Tar Baby”.
The late former Warriors star, David Muchineripi, scorer of Zimbabwe’s first-ever goal in a World Cup qualifier in the 1-0 win over Cameroon on November 11 1980 at Rufaro Stadium, was also raised in Mushongandebvu Walk.
Former Dynamos midfielder Hope “Zviyo” Chihota, ex-Darryn T keeper Fanuel Ariberto, Lloyd Katsvere, Alwyn Mushangazhike (late) and former Zimbabwe youth international Kelvin Mushangazhike were also born and bred in this historic Mbare street.
The Sunday Mail Sport’s efforts to do a catch-up story on boxing legend Zvenyika, who lives down the road along this amazing street, unearthed an intriguing piece of Zimbabwe’s sports history.
The two-time Commonwealth champion was in high spirits when this publication caught up with him at his house last Thursday.
He had just received a food hamper from popular traditional healer, Kamwelo Banda, who also donated foodstuffs to the Katsvere household and also offered assistance to former CAPS United and Dynamos defender Eddie “Major Murefu” Muchongwe during these trying times brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The traditional healer also later paid homage to five-time Soccer Star of the Year George “Mastermind” Shaya at his Glen Norah home.
“Very few people still remember that at one time I raised the Zimbabwean flag on the international boxing stage.
“I might be down now, I might have made some mistakes along the way, but the name Arifonso Zvenyika will always be mentioned when you talk of boxing in Zimbabwe,” the 44-year-old said.
“What Sekuru Banda has done is awesome, very few people remember this two-time Commonwealth champion.
“I am humbled by this gesture. Things are not well for me and my family, especially these days when we cannot go out to hustle because of the coronavirus,” said Zvenyika.
“Mosquito”, who credits veteran promoter Stalin Mau Mau for his boxing feats, shot to national prominence when he won the then-vacant Commonwealth flyweight title on January 26 1998 after knocking out Paul Weir of Scotland in the United Kingdom.
He defended his title against Keith Knox, also of Scotland, six months later before losing the belt to Damaen Kelly of Northern Ireland on December 12.
“How can I forget the year 1998? It remains the super year of my life. I won big, got money and also spent it big.
“In life you make some mistakes. I know I wasted some opportunity, I blew money but the good thing is I realise my mistakes. But 1998 was a very good year.”
That was the same year Dynamos rocked in Africa, reaching the CAF Champions League final in which they lost 2-4 on aggregate to Cote d’Ivoire giants ASEC Mimosas.
Chamu Musanhu, who was raised just a stone’s throw away from Mosquito’s family home, was part of that gallant DeMbare side.
“I call Mbare the little Hollywood of Zimbabwe because it has so many champions, be it in boxing or football,” Zvenyika said. “In fact, this street that we call Mushongandebvu is very interesting. Mushangazhike (Gilbert) was born and raised in that house (pointing in the direction) . . . he is actually my neighbour.
“We have the Katsvere brothers — Edward and Lloyd — up there, their house is close to that of legendary boxer Beira Tar Baby. You all know Chamu (Musanhu) and Hope (Chihota), they are both from this street.
“Mushongandebvu is big and Mbare is even bigger,” boasted Zvenyika.
Speaking from his base in the United Kingdom, Musanhu felt honoured to be part of this exciting piece of history.
“I did not realise I grew up in such a sports-rich street until now that we are talking about it,” said Musanhu.
“Growing up as young and budding footballers, we were inspired by the likes of Madhobha (Edward Katsvere.)
“I remember we also had this boxing legend Tar Baby. Mushongandebvu was just an interesting mixed bag. Everything was there, from thieves to Nyau dancers, everything.”
Now 54, Lloyd Katsvere, who was somewhat overshadowed by his more talented brother Edward, still cherishes his childhood.
“Back then, it was all about football and we would spend most of our time at the grounds. That is how most of us were spotted by big teams like Dynamos,” said Lloyd, who retired from the game in 1998.
“It was a blessing to be born in a street that also had the likes of David Muchineripi and his brother Joseph. David was an amazing talent; I am happy to have learnt one or two football tricks from him.
“I did not realise I come from a historical street until after this visit by Sekuru Banda. From here, he is going to Zvenyika’s house, which is down this street,’’ Lloyd said.
Born on August 1 1933, the late Tar Baby ruled the local boxing scene in the 1960s.
He won his first Rhodesia heavyweight title after beating Irvin “Wonder Boy” Zaka in 1963.
Tar Baby dominated the scene until he relinquished his belt to Walter Ringo Starr in 1978.
Ringo Starr was then dethroned by the late Proud “Kilimanjaro” Chinembiri.
“Tar Baby inspired a lot of boxers in Mbare.
Kilimanjaro, Gilbert “Giro” Josamu and myself were all inspired by Tar Baby,” recalled Zvenyika.
Tar Baby had 49 professional fights since 1959.
He won 33, lost 14 and drew two.
The Mbare-bred legend died on October 28 2011 after a long battle with prostate cancer.