Mukudzei Chingwere in Gweru
LANGTON “Schoolboy” Tinago, arguably Zimbabwe’s greatest sportsperson ever, was buried at Gweru Provincial Heroes’ Acre yesterday, becoming the only athlete to get such recognition which is the second highest in the country. Tinago died last Tuesday morning at the age of 69 after a short battle with pneumonia.
The boxer, popularly known as “Gazi” in the local boxing fraternity, received a send-off befitting his legendary status, and speaker-after-speaker spoke glowingly of his fighting exploits in the ring as well as his powerful left jab.
The iconic fighter had a glittering boxing career spanning over two decades where he managed to win three Commonwealth titles.
Tinago won all of his 65 official amature fights before turning professional, and as a professional, he won 86, losing 20 bouts and had three stalemates.
The Shurugwi-born icon’s exploits in the boxing ring earned his name a place into the Guineas Book of World Records.
Secretary for Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Prince Mupazviriho, as well as the director in the office of the Minister of State for Midlands Provincial Affairs, Cleto Diwa, represented the Government at Tinago’s burial.
However, what surprised many was the conspicuous absence of the country’s national sports leadership from the Sports Commission.
It is not the first time the sports leadership has abandoned one of their own after they recently snubbed the burial of tennis administrator Paul Chingoka.
The sports administrators have received their fare share of criticism for showering praises following the death of Tinago, while they neglected him when he struggled to bring food on his table after his boxing career.
Boxing trainer Isa Phiri said the (provincial hero) recognition conferred on Tinago is a major boost to the boxing fraternity as it makes their work easier in motivating athletes to do their best.
“We are deeply saddened by the death of Schoolboy but such is life, he achieved what he achieved and we are grateful of his contribution to the local boxing fraternity.
“The recognition that has been given to Tinago comes as a major boost to the boxing fraternity. When we tell aspiring boxers to take the game seriously, they will do exactly that knowing that it is recognised.
“Boxing is also the first sport to get such recognition and it inspires us to achieve more as a boxing fraternity, Tinago set the benchmark and we want to emulate that,” said Phiri.
Zimbabwe National Boxing Control Board representative Thomas Kambuyi narrated the heights of Tinago’s career, saying he was a rare talent.
“All that I have told you about his career is evidence that he was really a talented fighter who set a lot of records.
“He was someone who was always ready to take to the ring, he never asked the identity of the opponent, he only asked the monetary value in the fight and was ready to take to the ring anytime.
“His achievements will be very difficult to be matched, his records speak for themselves. He trained very hard and I just want to tell the active boxers that discipline is very important,” said Kambuyi.
Zimbabwe Boxing Federation president Jim Mpalale said Tinago is a true hero who deserved such recognition.
“We feel happy about the honour bestowed to Langton, he was a true hero, a true legend and we are happy for the recognition because he achieved a lot.
“The Government is realising sports contribution in unifying people evidenced by the people who are here and that recognition from the Government helps the development of sports in the country,” said Mpalale.
Family representative Wellington Pombi thanked the Government for giving his brother a hero’s send-off.
“We are grieving that our brother is no more but the support we have received from the Government is overwhelming and I just want to thank them for that,” said Pombi. Tinago was born in Shurugwi on September 28, 1949.
He first won the Zimbabwe lightweight and welterweight titles before winning the Commonwealth lightweight and super-featherweight crowns in his illustrious boxing career.