The Sunday Mail
AS he handed over US$50 000 to Charles Manyuchi on July 30, 2015 at State House in Harare, President Mugabe urged the boxing champ to use the money wisely.
“And in a small way, although our hearts are much larger in gratitude, we give you as a token of appreciation this little parcel. Share it with your wife because she is part of you,” President Mugabe said as he honoured the World Boxing Council International welterweight champion for his exploits in the ring.
The 26-year-old Manyuchi, whose childhood dream was to meet the President, had just emerged from his second title defence against Gianlucca Freeza of Italy unscathed.
In a sport where most of its stars have a propensity for lavish lifestyles, spending much of their lives in the fast lane before living out their last years in financial doldrums, Manyuchi was always going to be under the spotlight after receiving the US$50 000.
Exactly seven months after that memorable day with Gushungo, this publication sought to find out what he did with the windfall.
Manyuchi – with his wife Faniro Hove playing an instrumental role – has chosen Chivhu as his investment haven.
The WBC champion is now the proud owner of three houses, has completed building a nine-roomed house in Nyabira for his parents and is in the process of establishing a boxing academy on land donated by Chivhu Town Council.
But why Chivhu?
“I like a quiet life, away from the hustle of the city. Here I can go about my businesses without disturbances,” said Manyuchi.
“The idea is to have a decent home and a safe place where I can train without much distraction. Besides, properties are a bit cheaper in Chivhu and yet it is not very far away from Harare.
“I asked myself, ‘why buy one house in Harare when I can buy three big ones in Chivhu, with the same amount of money?’
“I have heard and read about international boxers who start very well but end very badly because of poor financial management.
“My target is to secure a future for my family. I know my boxing skills will not last forever, there will come a time when my fists will not be able earn me money anymore. That eventuality has to be prepared for, and it has to be prepared for now when I am still able.”
Indeed boxing has a lot of rags-to-riches and back-to-rags stories.
Former world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson was bankrupt by 2004 despite accumulating hundreds of millions of US dollars in a glittering career that exploded in style in 1986.
Tyson, thankfully, is showing signs of recovery because the of the sheer earning power his name brings.
Leon Spinks’ “from heavyweight champion to janitor” story is another sad tale.
Now 62-year-old, Spinks beat the great Muhammad Ali on February 5, 1978 in one of the biggest upsets in boxing history but ended up doing menial jobs for a living.
Locally, the demise of former Commonwealth flyweight champion Arifonso Zvenyika – who lived a sumptuous life at his peak in the late 1990s before falling on hard times – remains one of the saddest boxing stories.
It is with this history in mind that Manyuchi’s wife has played true to the old adage: behind every successful man is a woman.
“Although I am a teacher by profession, I know it is boxing that brings food on the table so we have to make hay whilst the sun shines,” said Hove, holding the couple’s two year-old son Mandlenkosi Junior.
It is not easy being Charles Manyuchi’s wife.
“Being a celebrity’s wife comes with its pros and cons. There are a lot of critics out there, but I have grown used to it. He (Manyuchi) always advises me not to listen to what people say,” she said.