Tadious Manyepo Sports Reporter
EPWORTH is fast becoming a boxing hub in the country. Most national titles, both for professionals and amateurs, have been won by boxers from this community. Recently, Peter “Sniper” Pambeni, defied the odds to claim the World Boxing Organisation Africa lightweight title in Namibia.
Yet, most of these boxers became boxers not by design. This is a community where bullies dominate and one has to develop some sort of self-defence. This is how most of the pugilists, including Pambeni, ended up being professional boxers.
“You had to be tough if you were to survive street bullying and some of us had to turn to boxing to earn respect,’’ said Pambeni.
“You just had to master some form of self-defence to live peacefully. But, then, your perception changes as soon as you meet professional trainers. That’s how some of us became boxers. It is the case with most of the boxers here, although others join the sport for the love of it.
“Boxing can be the way out of poverty and a community like ours doesn’t offer many opportunities so one has to dice for sport, especially boxing.”
Driven by this, six professional boxers hold national titles in their respective weight categories with Enock Musambudzi (middleweight), Anyway Katunga (fly-weight), Tawanda and junior welter-weight fighter, Tawanda Chigwida, having managed to defend their crowns in the past two years. Zimbabwe National Boxing Control Board member, Patrick Mukondiwa, confirmed a number of boxers who have won the country most titles, in recent years, hail from Epworth.
“Epworth is now ahead of Mbare in terms of producing good boxers,” said Mukondiwa.
“You know, these high-density suburbs where the fittest survive, you will always see boxers flourishing. But, there are also a lot of factors behind the flourishing of boxers. There are good trainers like Thomas Kambuyi.
“The boxers themselves also deserve credit for the discipline otherwise it is always difficult to try and mould rude boxers.”
The Epworth Local Board have set up the Epworth Sports Association with the aim of developing sport in the area.
They are getting support from one of Epworth’s most illustrious sons Musekiwa Kumbula. Kumbula sponsors a number of sporting disciplines in Epworth.
Chairman of the Epworth Sports Association, Shepherd Mudzamiri, said his organisation should also be commended for its development-centred approach. “Boxing in Epworth has been on an upward trend. Epworth has abundant boxing talent.
“We also attribute the success of boxers from this community to sound management strategies. We are proud of what we have done over the years and we are working hard as a community to continue churning out champions.
“We have activated a lot of incubation strategies whereby we go into different shopping centres in the township to identify upcoming talent which we then develop into good boxers,” he said.
“One other key aspect of development which has enabled us, as Epworth, is the high level of volunteerism displayed by sportspersons in the centre.”
Mudzamiri said the sport will be introduced in Epworth schools starting this year.