New WBC super bantamweight interim gold champion Kudakwashe Chiwandire was close to tears at the Robert Mugabe International Airport upon returning home to a rousing welcome.
Chiwandire made history by becoming the first Zimbabwean to win a WBC gold title after defeating Zambia’s Catherine Phiri away in Lusaka last Saturday on an ESPN Africa card.
That she was the underdog in a battle of wits, in which she prevailed on split points decision, made the victory even sweeter for the 26-year-old, who became the second African woman to land the belt after Phiri.
Chiwandire was received home by hordes of supporters who filled the air with singing, whistling and ululating. Traditional dancers and Government officials led by Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Deputy Minister Tino Machakaire gave her a royal reception.
It was a befitting welcome for the boxer who notched a feat never achieved by any other boxer in the history of the game in this country.
The procession headed to the Harare International Conference Centre where the boxer and her trainer/manager Clyde Musonda were scheduled to mix and mingle with the fans over dinner and cocktail.
Machakaire, himself a boxing enthusiast who once bankrolled a bill Chiwandire was part of iin 2019 at the HICC, was full of praise for the orthodox fighter.
“This is what we, as Government, have been advocating for, to have women using their God-given talents to hoist the country’s flag high,” said Machakaire.
“Kudakwashe Chiwandire has done the country proud. This is the highest point for boxing this country has ever reached.
“Look, Chiwandire was fighting a veteran boxer who was not only the previous champion but also a commissioned officer in the Zambian Air Force.
“She was actually brought to the venue by a helicopter while the Lusaka Government Complex was filled to the brim with Phiri’s supporters.
“But Chiwandire was so gallant and she managed to beat her opponent.
“As Government we are very happy and supportive of the girl child. This is a new level which Zimbabwe have reached courtesy of Chiwandire. “We would like to thank her parents (father Morris and mother Edina) for being supportive of their child to pursue sport as a profession.
“We would like to urge parents and guardians to be supportive of their children in their bid through all those phases. I salute them for giving us a champion.”
Chiwandire, who is a hairdresser by profession, said the fight was hard but she was happy she managed to overcome.
“I don’t know which words to use. I am over the moon. Dreams really come true. This is a life-changing experience. Catherine Phiri is no novice. The atmosphere at the Lusaka Government Complex was so lit and every punch I received from Catherine was met with wild cheers but I had to persevere and I am happy I won,” she said.
Chiwandire received a big boost ahead of the fight when funeral repatriation company Zororo Phumulani chipped in with air tickets for her entire crew, who had initially planned to take the taxing trip to Lusaka by road.