In Zororo’s silence, I still hear his voice, in his loneliness, I feel his company and in his absence, I feel his presence
I DID NoT know Zororo Makamba, never spoke to him, never met him and never chatted to him online.
But, I know him now.
Which, in itself, is a paradox in that in his silence, I still hear his sleek voice, in his loneliness, I feel his company and in his absence, I feel his presence.
The presence of his absence, the absence of his presence.
The baby face, which never seemed to fade with time, the handsome features which illuminated the television screen.
The one who provided a beautiful soundtrack of defiance to the logic that dark features don’t usually provide the illumination which a lot of people associate with good looks.
For us, the dark children, a model personality who challenged the myth associated with our complexion and, like a young Denzel Washington before him, the one whose darkness represented fineness.
He loved boxing, the management of the business of this fine art, and was acquiring a licence to promote this grand old sport, in which ruthlessness is the ultimate definition of greatness.
Had he lived longer, and pursued his boxing management career further, maybe, one day he would have met the original Pretty Boy.
The one who transformed himself into a money-making machine, the one who now calls himself TBE (The Best Ever), the poor boy from Michigan who won the world’s biggest lottery ticket.
Floyd Mayweather Jnr, a freak of nature, 50 professional fights, no loss, no draw, as perfect a record in any sport as they will ever come.
And, that he did it amid the brutality and uncertainty, controversy and confidence, everything that comes together to make boxing magical, amplifies his greatness.
No one knows what they would have discussed, had they met in their line of promoting this fine art called boxing, either in Las Vegas or New York, one day in their lives.
But Zororo was shrewd, had already shown his qualities to cut through the tough world of the complex jungles that make business thrive, itself the very heart of what drives this industry of boxing promotion.
No one knows, for sure, what would have happened had Zororo met Floyd Mayweather and, now, we can only imagine and, with the benefit of life, merely speculate.
Maybe, they would have talked about possibilities, and probabilities, of transforming the Zimbabwean boxing industry into a commercial success story.
Because, we are a boxing country, the one that produced three-time Commonwealth champion, Langton “Schoolboy” Tinago, Proud “Kilimanjaro’’ Chinembiri, Charles Manyuchi, Derek Chisora, Flash Chisango, Arifonso “Mosquito’’ Zvenyika.
But, while we have had the athletes, we have hadn’t the promoters, the guys who make a difference in taking the boxers to another level.
“Boxing is not a sport that promotes itself,’’ Josuee Hernandez famously argued in the Bleacher Report.
“Without a surefire promoter, the person who lies behind (and in front) of the scenes, many of the greatest fights of all time would never have happened.’’
Guys like Frank Warren, who turned Joe Calzaghe and Ricky Hatton, into superstars, with the later retiring after just two losses to Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
Guys like Oscar de La Hoya, of the Golden Boy Promotions, guys like Tex Rickard, the promoter who put together the “Fight of the Century,’’ in 1910, when he brought Jim Jefferies out of retirement to take on Jack Johnson.
The guy who also put together boxing’s first million-dollar super fight, the heavyweight showdown between Jack Dempsey and George Carpentier in 1921 in New Jersey, the first world title first to be broadcast live over the radio.
Guys like the iconic Don King.
That could have been our Zororo, in a way, because no one knows where his career, as a boxing promoter, would have taken him.
But, given the way he had already moved, and shaken things, in his young career as a broadcaster, and budding businessmen, only the sky would have been the limit.
The doors he had opened and the doors he was set to open and; in boxing promotion, this could be a multi-million dollar thing.
Sadly, at the age of 30, Zororo died, on Monday.
A true story of Shakespearian tragedy, if ever there was one, for our media industry, for our sporting industry, for our boxing industry.
Fate, somehow, making sure he died at the age David became King.
The age Ezekiel began his ministry and the age our Lord Jesus Christ was baptised by John the Baptist, marking the start, according to Luke 3:32, of His public ministry of teaching and healing.
ZORORO’s DEATH, JUST LIKE THAT MAGIC ANNOUNCEMENT, A DAY TIME STOOD STILL
Until Zororo Makamba died on Monday, there was a feeling, among some of us, that coronavirus was some distant offshore pandemic.
There was this myth, black people were immune to this virus and it could not survive in our hot conditions.
We also told ourselves it only posed a danger for those above 70 years, and not the African youths, the ghetto youths, that’s why hundreds went to Killer T’s birthday party in Mbare.
In our moment of weakness we, somehow, thought this represented our moment of strength.
Then, Zororo died, and everything changed.
We were handed a reality check, a brutal reminder this virus was real, and age and the dark shade of our skin – were nothing but just a number, and a colour, which provided no defence, whatsoever, to the fangs of this deadly invisible enemy.
The confirmation of Zororo’s death, for people of a certain age like me, was a throwback to that day, on November 7, 1991, when Earvin ‘’Magic’’ Johnson called a media conference in Los Angeles and announced he was HIV positive.
“First of all, let me say good, late afternoon,’’ Magic said as he started his address to the media. “Because of the HIV virus that I have, I will have to retire from the Lakers today.
“I just want to make it clear, first of all, that I don’t have the AIDS disease, I know a lot of you wanna know that but the AIDS virus, I just wanna say that I gonna miss playing and I will now become a spokesman for the HIV virus because I want a lot of people to realise that they can practise safe sex.
“Because, sometimes, you believe that it can never happen to you. I’m gonna beat it and I’m gonna have fun, thank you again and see you soon.’’
And, with that statement, the world trembled.
“The news is so shocking, and so unexpected, it is difficult to absorb it even as we report it,” one anchor, of a major United States television network, said as he reported the announcement.
“The dazzling career of one of the world’s best known athletes is over. Magic Johnson confirmed today that he has the AIDS virus, he becomes a statistic.”
DStv, have been showing a documentary of Magic Johnson’s journey, from his home state of Michigan to become a global basketball superstar, to the moment he made that seismic announcement.
It’s called “The Announcement.”
The documentary also touches on the moment Magic was told by his doctor he was HIV positive.
“He (his physician) began to tell me about my insurance, the physical test I took, and he told me that I had HIV,” Magic says in that film.
“You sitting there like, you didn’t hear it. I was down on the floor, probably for two hours, trying to collect myself because you just feel, for that moment, life has changed.
“I’m a control freak, I like to take control but, for the first time, I was out of control, I just didn’t know how to handle it, sitting there with a lot of questions like what does this mean for me, am I gonna die?
“He said if I hadn’t had a physical test I wouldn’t have even known that I had the virus but, nothing he told me was good, all I heard was a death sentence.
“I played against the best in basketball, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, it was the most difficult thing to do but these things were nothing, the most difficult thing in my life was driving from the doctor’s office, to tell my wife Cookey I had HIV.
“I actually did not know what to say to her, it came out, somehow, that “honey, I have HIV.”
IT’s LIKE A SCRIPT MADE FOR US, TO APPRECIATE AND UNDERSTAND
Magic was told he would soon die, at best, he had a few years to live and this monster would then destroy his immune system and, far away from the madding crowd that had followed him during his hey days as a basketball superstar, he would slip away from this world.
But, what people didn’t know was that this was a guy who simply refused to be a statistic.
And, using the same mental strength which had taken him from poverty, where he helped his father collect garbage bins in Michigan to supplement the family income, to become a millionaire basketball superstar in Los Angeles, he started to fight back.
The key was his wife, Cookey, and her decision to stick with him.
The other important thing was that he took this as a challenge to him and, rather than wilt into its deadly embrace, chose to fight it by spreading the message to the world about its kiss of death.
He became the messenger who spread the gospel to dispel the myth this was a virus that only infected gay people and that, no matter how much one had in his bank account, it could get him.
“God have me this disease, he gave it to the right person (who could fight it),” Magic thundered.
And, fight it he did, and today, Magic still lives, 29 years after that announcement, feels as healthy as any 60-year-old, and his inspired speeches, and work, have been credited with saving many others.
Like Hydeia Broadbent.
She is now 36, was just a two-year HIV-positive girl when she met Magic on one of his television shows, her tears, as she cried asking the world to also treat them as people, one of the touching moments in the fight against this pandemic.
My brother Zororo faced a different virus, which has forced the world into lockdown, in a way never seen since the end of World War II, fought long and hard but, sadly, lost the most important fight of his life.
It’s hard not to cry for him, because he was so full of life, so pregnant with promise, the generation that held the future of this country in its hands and, from a sporting perspective, probably the guy who could have revolutionised our boxing industry.
Somehow, fate threw him his toughest fight, at the young age of 30, at a time when we all really don’t appear to know how we can confront this invisible deadly enemy, which has turned Italy into a killing field, and New York into a death city.
I didn’t really know him.
But, I know him now, and it’s a pity I won’t be able to see him again on television but — just like that Magic Announcement — his unfortunate death has shaken us in a way we had never imagined.
I’m happy he loved boxing.
Because, it’s the sport that teaches us that a hero and a coward both feel the same thing, the only difference is that the hero uses his fear to project it into his opponent, while the coward runs away.
It’s the same thing, fear, but what matters is what we do with it and that will define whether we live, or die.
Sadly, Zororo lost his battle, the youthful guy who had dedicated his life to promoting a generation of the country’s boxing champions.
To God Be The Glory!
Peace to the GEPA Chief, the Big Fish, George Norton and all the Chakariboys in the struggle.
You can also interact with me on Twitter — @Chakariboy, Facebook, Instagram — sharukor and every Wednesday night, at 9.45pm, when I join the legendary Charles “CNN’’ Mabika and producer Craig “Master Craig’’ Katsande on the ZBC television magazine programme, “Game Plan”.