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Chiponda: Champ’s legacy lives on
Arigoma Chiponda takes a long swig from his 1L Coca-
For a brief moment, he allows his memory to waltz back to the dark, abysmal passages of time and suddenly, his face lights up in recollection: “It was in 1978 when I was matched against an opponent by the name of Rod Kemble for the national (Zimbabwe) light-
“But to the contrary and to everyone’s disbelief, I went on to beat the lights out of Rod. His wife literally wept and had to be carried out of the Hellenic Hall, Bulawayo, which was the venue of the bout. “I was to beat him again in the reverse bout in the capital city (then Salisbury) to retain that title which I went on to hold for the whole decade. But that victory against Kemble stands out as one of my most memorable achievements in my career so far.”
During a sporting career that spans close to four decades, the highlights of his amateur boxing years were when he represented the country in the All Africa Games and the Olympics.
“Back in the day, representing the country was an honour and we did not do it for financial gains. Just the feeling of having the flag of my nation hoisted satiated my sense of patriotism sufficiently,” he says of the early formative years as an amateur.
He made history -
And from the time he eventually graduated into the professional circuit, the celebrated pugilist has fought the crème de la crème in Zimbabwe and some of the names that quickly come to mind are Captain Marvel, Bonyongo Destroyer, Abrose Mlilo, Tarr Baby, Petros Masiyambumbi, Joe “Breaker” Makaza, Otis Manyuchi, Kid Power Mutambisi and Amasi Nenjani. “I walloped each and every one of them to the extent that when I could no longer find opponents in my first division (middleweight), I hunted more opponents in the light-
His biggest shot at an international title was when he fought Briton Gary Delaney in London for the vacant Commonwealth light heavyweight title. He lost in the fifth round after he had allegedly been subjected to a thumb poke in his right eye.
Apart from beating all and sundry during his prime, Chiponda also travelled extensively, first as an amateur representing the country, and later when he had joined the professional ranks.
Among the countries he has been to on these tours of duty are Zambia, Botswana, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Italy, United Kingdom, Netherlands and the United States of America.
In USA, for instance, I had a one-
“But my biggest influence was Muhamad Ali whose pictures I would paste on the walls of my rural home room. Coincidentally he was also Muslim like me, but it was his style that appealed to me more than anything else. Ali made jokes out of tense situations and could certainly fly like a butterfly and sting like a bee. I also adored past legends like Sony Liston.” Chiponda (nick-
Arigoma’s father passed on at a very advanced age in 1996, but his mother is still alive.
The Chipondas subscribe to the Islamic faith whose church Arigoma grew up attending and makes sure he still does not miss mass the hour after midday each Friday.
“We were taught the Islamic way of life from childhood and this comprised the commandments and guidelines of the religion as well as singing hymns and praying for food and for good sleep.
“Unfortunately, our religion does not allow us to keep dogs, but we obviously had a host of other domestic animals we kept at home such as goats, sheep and cattle.”
Chiponda affectionately singles out one goat he was endeared to. “His name was Strokee and he was so obedient you could tell him what to do and he would do it. As young children growing up, he easily became our best non-
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