SPORT and Recreation Minister Makhosini Hlongwane has leapt to the defence of Charles Manyuchi saying there was nothing unusual about his first round knock-out by Qudratillo Abduqaxorov in Singapore on Saturday night.
He urged Zimbabweans to respect and continue supporting the boxer, instead of turning against him and unleashing a lot of innuendoes that are hurting his profile despite Manyuchi’s failure to defend the WBC welterweight silver title last weekend.
Manyuchi, who held the title since May last year, was knocked out in just two minutes and 56 seconds by the 23-year old Uzbek sensation in a fight the Zimbabwean had been billed to dominate and win easily.
The boxer, who returned home on Tuesday, has been severely criticised for showboating in the first round.
Hlongwane said Manyuchi remains a distinguished sports ambassador for the country despite the defeat.
He said people should not condemn the 27-year-old after some had even suggested there was possibility of foul play in Singapore.
“Manyuchi’s defeat, in what seemed to be a technical knockout, has received a wide range of interpretations.
“However, the Ministry of Sport and Recreation is of the view that Manyuchi’s defeat represents an occurrence that is not alien in the world of sport, as in any context all sportsmen are expected to either fall in or fall out as they defend their merits.
“Government, through the Ministry of Sport and Recreation, assumes an empathetic position on Manyuchi’s unfortunate fate in Singapore. This is because in any tournament there must be a winner and one who bears defeat.
“However, these circumstantial positions of triumph and defeat must play an interchanging role in the journey of any sportsperson and should not be confused for destiny.
“Ultimately, this unexpected defeat does not conclusively entail what the future holds for Manyuchi. While Manyuchi needs to embrace the outcome of his Singapore experience, our sport fans need to equally embrace the view that athletes are not entitled to unbridled victory.
“Experiencing defeat is normal in the course of nurturing excellence and his fans must continue to support this esteemed Zimbabwean boxing ambassador.
“Above all else, we must acknowledge the outstanding effort exerted by Manyuchi to measure up to the world standards of sportsmanship within the boxing fraternity and support him in good and bad seasons in his quest to represent Zimbabwe in the international sporting arena.
“Against this background, I call on Charles Manyuchi not to despair, but have himself up to challenge for his belt and move on to work towards attaining the WBC gold title,” said Hlongwane.