By Munyaradzi Madzokere
It has taken newly crowned World Boxing Organisation (WBO) Africa Zone lightweight champion Peter Pambeni barely a year to strike gold since he met veteran boxing promoter Stalin Mau Mau.
When he met Mau Mau last year, Pambeni, a former national bantamweight champion, had not been in the boxing ring for close to 10 years.
The Epworth-bred boxer, a product of street boxing popularly known as Wafa-wafa, stormed onto the local professional boxing scene in 2004 and immediately
became a national champion.
A move to South Africa in 2007 to pursue a boxing career turned sour as the immensely talented pugilist ended up doing menial jobs in the neighbouring country,
including working as a barber and at some point as a bouncer in nightclubs.
After his return to the country in 2012, his wish was to revive his boxing career, but was written off with one local promoter telling him he was a spent force
and should rather concentrate on fish poaching, which he was doing then to make a living.
But in all this, the boxing dream did not die.
Last month the 30-year-old boxer upset his Namibian opponent Albinius Felesianu by a unanimous decision to become the WBO Africa lightweight champion.
The Sports Hub caught up with Pambeni, who spoke about his boxing journey and also referred to his latest success as the beginning of a journey to the top.
“I am happy about this WBO title, but my dream has always been to fight for a WBC world title one day, so the journey has begun in earnest. I think people can
now believe that I have what it takes to achieve this dream,” Pambeni said.
“My dream is to be number one in the world one day. At the moment I am ranked 15th in the world and I want to be the best in the world,” he added.
It’s not a surprise that Pambeni held his victory celebrations in Epworth, the place that taught him to box.
“I don’t forget where I came from, so we went to Epworth and threw a party to celebrate with the people who know what I have gone through to be here,” Pambeni
Boxing was initially inculcated in the athlete by his father when he was as young as eight as a way to keep fit and street boxing brought to the fore his
“My father loved to train, so he is the first person to introduce me to boxing, but he was not a boxer. We also started entertaining people at Epworth shops in
street boxing and through that I met Thomas Kambuyi, who was coach for Epworth Boxing then. That is when I started getting formal boxing training,” recalled
“Soon I became a national champion and after that I couldn’t find sponsorship here and I decided to go to South Africa to pursue my career. However, things did
not turn out as planned there because I had a contract with a promoter here in Zimbabwe.
“In the end I had to do anything I could to survive in SA. I started off as a barber and then became a bouncer in night clubs, but it’s a life I hated.”
He added: “I had an opportunity for a lucrative fight in South Africa, but the Zimbabwean promoter here ruined it all. After that I had to come back in 2012 so
that I could work things out with the promoter and resuscitate my boxing career.
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“The promoter told me that I was a spent force and that I should try fishing as a new trade because he felt I no longer had a future in boxing. I became a
fisherman and eventually ran away from him,” Pambeni revealed.
But everything changed when Pambeni met Mau Mau last year and joined Mau Mau Boxing. Since then the boxer has fought in 10 non-title bouts winning eight of
them while the other two finished in a tie.
It was that record that made him eligible to have a shot at the WBO Africa title, which he eventually won.
“When I met Mau Mau last year, I had gone for almost 10 years without a fight. Now I have another chance to succeed for my family and for my country,” he
Pambeni is married to Tsitsi Zhuwake Pambeni and the two have four children Denzel, Shaun, Constance and Panashe.