THE boxing fraternity yesterday woke up to the shocking news of the untimely death of one of Zimbabwe’s finest and greatest boxers of all time, Langton ‘Schoolboy’ Tinago.
BY TERRY MADYAUTA/ GARISH PHIRI
Tinago passed on at Gweru General Hospital after suffering from pneumonia.
He was 68.
Tinago is survived by his wife Mary and four children. Mourners are gathered at 45 Norah Street in Mambo, Gweru.
His close friend and former Zimbabwe Amatuer Boxing Federation secretary-general Godwill Sibanda confirmed the death of the boxing legend.
“It is with great sadness that early this morning (Tuesday), we learnt of the death of our icon — Langton ‘Schoolboy’ Tinago.
“He died at Gweru General Hospital this morning after a long illness. He leaves behind his mother Efa Pombi, wife Mary and four children,” Sibanda said.
Tinago defied all odds to become the only Zimbabwean three-time Commonwealth boxing champion — winning two consecutive lightweight titles and a super-featherweight.
He was the first Zimbabwean boxer to retire unbeaten in both lightweight titles and a super-featherweight since 1956.
“Gazi”, as he was affectionately known in Gweru began his boxing career in 1967 and at one point he beat veteran boxing trainer Harold Volbrecht then ranked the world number seven, back in 1987.
During his illustrious career, Tinago was the first to win the Sportsman of the Year award three years in a row and then coming second in the fourth year.
The sportsperson to come closest to this feat was swimming queen Kirsty Coventry who won the award two times in a row.
Boxing Control Board chairperson Richard Hondo,who saw Tinago’s boxing career bloss
om was saddened with the news.
“I saw his career start until his retirement. He is the greatest boxer ever to emerge from this country. That, I can testify. He is the Zimbabwean sportsperson who made history in the Commonwealth Games, being a champion three times. It’s a huge blow for us and no one can match his discipline and he will remain the best in Zimbabwe’s boxing history,” he said.
Tinago reached the pinnacle of his career in the 1980s when he won his first international silverware after beating Nigerian superstar Hogan Jimoh in Lagos.
The Zimbabwean boxing legend went on to defeat Australian boxer Graeme Brooke to win his first Commonwealth lightweight title back in 1986.
For his sterling achievements on the international stage, Tinago was at one point given an accolade by the Zimbabwe Boxing Control Board.
In Zimbabwe, he also won the Zimbabwean lightweight and welterweight titles on numerous occasions.
Tinago played an influential role in the development of grassroots boxing. In 2016, he formed a boxing club — Ascot Boxing Club in Gweru, which however, collapsed due to lack of sponsorship. He had also been mentoring a number of local boxers, including Edmore Takawira, and at one point trained Alfonso “Mosquito” Zvenyika.