Tadious Manyepo Sports Reporter
THE clock read 11:59pm when Kudakwashe “Take Money” Chiwandire decided to abandon her plan.
Just a minute before the 2022 New Year.
She had planned to join her colleagues in the streets of Dzivarasekwa to celebrate the dawn of 2022.
But, the female boxer decided to join her parents in prayer, instead.
“Something happened to me. I wanted to join the street party as I have always done. But, with the clock ticking towards the New Year, I asked myself some difficult questions.
“I then decided to join my family in prayer. I needed a new beginning, I needed guidance going into 2022 more than anything else,” said Chiwandire.
“I decided to turn to God, wholeheartedly. I needed to discover myself. I needed a new dawn and I realised all that would only come from the Almighty.”
The World Boxing Council (WBC) interim bantamweight champion was virtually an unknown quantity with just seven low profile bouts under her belt.
She was toiling to make ends meet and hairdressing was the main source of income for the mother of three.
She had just broken ranks with the Charles Manyuchi Boxing Academy to re-join Delta Force Academy.
Crucially, Delta Force Academy director who is also Chiwandire’s coach, Clyde Musonda, had just secured a high-profile fight for her.
She was to challenge for the WBC interim title against veteran Zambian pugilist Catherine Phiri.
The terms were never favourable.
Chiwandire and Musonda were to travel by road for the fight slated for February 26, 2022, at the Lusaka Government Complex. The purse money was a little more than US$1 000.
Practically, the Zimbabweans were to make some losses as their investment never tallied with the purse money.
Nonetheless, the title mattered the most. That’s the highest any Zimbabwean has ever challenged for.
The status of the belt far much outweighed the huge losses to be incurred.
Chiwandire knew the moment, if seized well, would change her story, for good.
“I told myself, my life had to change. I am one person who has tried everything in life. I have been a vendor, a footballer, a hairdresser, kick-boxer…
“I challenged myself that I wanted an overhaul in my life. Boxing had not given me a life but I believed it had the potential to do so.
“People do have resolutions and I had mine, written inside my heart. I needed to communicate them to God. That’s what I did for more than 30 minutes into the New Year.
“I felt so much connected to God and I needed to do it even more. That’s how my prayer became very long”.
Chiwandire wouldn’t proceed to Zambia by road, come February.
A South Africa-based Zimbabwe firm, Zororo Phumulani, which is powered by Doves Zimbabwe, read about her plight in The Herald.
They decided to buy return flight tickets for Chiwandire and Musonda.
Chiwandire, was the underdog, by a considerable distance when she came up against Phiri.
Even interestingly, Phiri had taken performance enhancing substances, which would lead to her ban, going into the fight.
Chiwandire had her mind up. She needed to change her story.
She won the fight on points and took the meagre purse money home which she and Musonda used to offset some debts they had incurred in the build-up to the fight.
But President Mnangagwa gave her a US$15 000 token for raising the country’s flag high. She used the money to complete her family’s semi-finished house in Dzivarasekwa Extension.
Zimbabwe, all of a sudden, started warming up to boxing, a long forgotten sport, again.
The country successfully applied to host Chiwandire’s title defence against Zulina Munoz of Mexico.
‘’Take Money’’, once again prevailed at the Harare International Conference Centre on October 14.
She took home a purse prize of US$20 000 plus a US$32 000 proceeds from the auctioning of a Muhammed Ali bronze statue which had been donated to her by the JR Turner Foundation.
The Deputy Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, Tino Machakaire, pledged a further US$10 000 as well as a house and a car for the boxer.
Chiwandire’s victory also meant she became the mandatory challenger for the WBC gold title against Yemileth Mercado of Mexico early next year.
This is a year Chiwandire would feel she has finally discovered herself.
At just 27, Chiwandire has a whole future cut out for her and she believes she can achieve remarkable goals, starting with winning the WBC gold next year.