MR T35 Company, one of the major sponsors of boxing in the country, has decided to walk away, in a development that could be a blow to the development of the ailing sport.
BY HENRY MHARA
The company, which specialises in servicing Mazda T35 trucks and buses, has been sponsoring boxing for the past seven years.
In a statement yesterday, Mr T35 general manager, Martin Beula said they had decided to stop all forms of boxing sponsorship with immediate effect.
“Mr T35 would like to notify the Zimbabwe Boxing Board that we have resolved to quit boxing sponsorships. We would like to thank the boxing board and all the boxing fans for the seven years of support we shared together. We feel we have tried our best to uplift boxing considering all the achievements that we have celebrated and tabled together. We really appreciate the opportunity afforded to us to showcase our passion for sports.”
Before the announcement, they were the principal sponsor of the country’s leading boxer, Charles Manyuchi, whom they turned from an amateur boxer into the World Boxing Council (WBC) welterweight silver champion, a title he lost last year.
Mr T35 provided Manyuchi, who will be given a chance to regain the belt this year, support in his journey to become a champion, including resources for training, camping, accommodation, transport, boxing equipment, regalia and airfares for international bouts.
After winning the WBC welterweight silver title, Mr T35 rewarded Manyuchi with a car.
The company also partnered Manyuchi in a number of social responsibility activities, including donating to orphanages, launching boxing in schools.
They were instrumental in the setting-up of the Charles Manyuchi Boxing Academy, which was launched last month, whose objective is to unearth talents in different sporting codes, and turn them into professionals.
Besides boxing, Mr T35 has previously sponsored Harare football giants, Caps United.
While Beula could not give reasons for quitting boxing, sources yesterday confided that the company was frustrated by lack of support in their business.
“They have been pumping huge sums of money into the sport, but with absolutely no returns. They took Manyuchi, when he had nothing, believed in him and made him the superstar he is today. The company put a lot of money in him and had hoped to create more Manyuchis, but no one is complementing them.
“For example, Mr T35 put $27 000 for the hosting of an international boxing tournament at the Harare International Conference Centre last year, where Manyuchi knocked out Jose Feria. They were hoping to get returns from the gate takings, but didn’t get even a cent. But their main frustration came from the lack of support in their efforts to set up a Mazda assembly project in the country. They has been trying to get assistance on that for years now, but to no avail.”
Mr T35 and Manyuchi’s stable, Oriental Quarries Boxing Promotions of Zambia, had an international tournament scheduled for Harare next month, but it appears the event will be cancelled following yesterday’s developments.