I won't stop: Manyuchi

HARARE - For fighters to call each other out or make promises is nothing new in boxing.

But Charles Manyuchi has taken the art to announce that his recent crowning moment as Zimbabwe’s best sporting talent of 2016 will not make him remove the paddle from the metal.

The Mutuko-born pugilist was crowned the Sportsperson of the Year during Friday night’s Annual National Sports Awards (Ansa).

“This will obviously motivate me to continue working hard but it doesn’t mean I will start telling myself I have made it,” Manyuchi said of his award.

He had earlier scooped the Sportsman of the Year for the third year running and the approval was palpable as dignitaries rose to give ‘‘the champ’’ a standing ovation.

Never short of drama, Manyuchi seemingly backed himself to be the main event after he arrived at the grand occasion with the World Boxing Council (WBC) belts.

They fitted the scrip as photojournalists jostled to capture the images.

“If you are going into war, you have to go prepared,” he said.

Although he stretched his record to 20 wins from 23 outings, the beginning of 2016 was somewhat punctuated by uncertainty.

The pugilist endured months without a promoter after Oriental Quarries Boxing Promotion (OQBP) declined to renew his contract over irreconcilable differences.

The WBC welterweight champion’s flirtation with OQBP had abruptly ended with the Zambian boxing stable unequivocally stating that they were no longer interested in his services.

That divorce left Manyuchi racing against time to find a new stable to host his mandatory title defence which had been set for February.

However, things turned for the better following lengthy talks instigated by Zimbabwe’s Sports minister Makhosini Hlongwane to rescue the pugilist’s career.

To his credit, Manyuchi also shouldered the responsibility of mending a broken relationship with (OQBP).

Reunited, the stable and boxer went   on triumph in the bright lights of Russia.

More than 11 000 kilometres away from home, Manyuchi fought for the WBC silver title left vacant by Briton Amir Khan and caught welterweighter Dmitry Mikhaylenko cold in a 12-rounder.

The 29-year-old Russian nicknamed “The Mechanic” was yet to taste defeat in an impressive career that had seen him floor his opponents nine times in 21 undefeated professional fights.

But not on that night at the DIVS, Ekaterinburg where Manyuchi came out on top.

“When people see me here all suited up, they might think this is who I am, but I am working hard everyday to get better than I am. I haven’t reached my peak yet,” Manyuchi said.

Manyuchi won $350 for being crowned the Sportsman of the Year, in a monetary incentive that may not reflect the effort, time and sacrifice invested by the winning athletes.

While observers had a lot to input on that price, Manyuchi distanced himself from making any rush conclusions.

Instead, he insisted that he was chasing excellence.

The Ansas celebrate and reward top sports icons in Zimbabwe who would have performed exceptionally well at national, regional, continental and world championships.