KUDA “Take Money” Chiwandire made history by becoming the first Zimbabwean to win a World Boxing Council (WBC) gold title after defeating Zambia’s Catherine Phiri away in Lusaka, Zambia, exactly two months ago.
Phiri, a former holder of the WBC Super Bantamweight gold belt, went into the fight ranked third on the WBC ratings while Chiwandire was virtually unknown in the elite circles of female boxing.
Chiwandire nearly travelled by road to Lusaka until a funeral assurance firm intervened and paid for a return air ticket for her and her trainer/manager Clyde Musonda as sponsors appeared hesitant to partner her.
The 26-year-old Mbare-born and Highfield-bred boxer surprised many when she outpointed her opponent to eventually become the most sought-after female sports personality in the country.
Upon her return from Zambia, deputy Sports minister Tino Machakaire, senior government officials, popular individuals and several local boxers and fans, jostled for Kodak moments with Chiwandire at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.
Chiwandire’s welcome was in stark contrast to her low key send-off ahead of the bout in Zambia.
On her return, she was promised everything good, including meeting President Emmerson Mnangagwa. But, two months down the line Chiwandire, just like those before her, has also fallen into the same pit of empty promises.
Chiwandire has since resumed preparations for a World Championship fight against Mercado in three months.
Sadly, Chiwandire is in the same situation she found herself ahead of the Zambian trip as sponsors continue to overlook her.
Chiwandire and her handlers continue to struggle as they seek sponsorship while those who wait for the Kodak moments sit in the terraces waiting for another opportunity.
But it’s not surprising, though. What’s happening to Chiwandire has always been the plight of the country’s sports personalities, especially women.
Despite their capability to lift the country’s flag high, they remain underappreciated.
The Mighty Warriors in 2016 made history when they qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympic qualifiers in Brazil. They remain the only national football team to achieve such a feat in a major global tournament.
However, despite such a huge achievement, what the girls got were promises for stands and at some point were even paid US$5 each after a match. To make matters worse, the girls’ Samsung phones they were given in Brazil have not reached them yet in a damning indictment on the country’s treatment of female athletes.