Boxing medical scandal rock Zimbabwe sport

HARARE – In one of the biggest scandals to rock boxing in Zimbabwe, four regular pugilists failed the mandatory medical tests in Namibia and risk being banned by the World Boxing Organisation (WBO).

The boxers undergo mandatory Hepatitis Band HIV tests before international fights. However it has emerged that the boxers travelled to Namibia on March 21 with tampered medical certificates.

Isaac Phonkeni, Master Kachigwada (all lightweight),  Blessing Moleni (bantamweight) and Tom Fernando (lightweight) are regular boxers on the local boxing circuit, who have been fighting on the local circuit exposing other boxers.

According to the regulations, boxers are tested in their home country in this case by the Zimbabwe Boxing Board of Control before they travel for international fights. The boxers produce medical certitificates before they are tested again by the host country.
The local boxers produced certificates, which showed that they are medically fit, but went to fail the tests in Namibia.

Phokeni and Kachingwada were supposed to participate in WBO international title bouts in an event organised to coincide with the Namibia’s Independence Day celebrations but failed to participate after failing medical tests.

The other boxers who failed the tests but were engaging in non-title fights were  Moleni (bantamweight) and Fernando (lightweight).

Phonkeni had been matched against Jatoorora Tjingaveti for the lightweight title while Kachigwada had been pencilled in to meet Paulus "Ali" Nuumbembe for the welterweight title.

Andrew Smale, a WBO Africa Zone representative, said his organisation would seek an audience with the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture following which the results of the investigations will be made public.

"We have a brand to protect. Whatever is going to emerge from the probe will determine the fate of Zimbabweans participating in tournaments organised by the WBO, but at the moment I am afraid to say that as the custodian of this reputable organisation, I am totally disappointed by what transpired. But I will only be able to give an official position once everyone responsible has been given an opportunity to present their case.

"I will engage the board of boxing control in Zimbabwe in their capacity as the regulators of the sport and the ministry’s involvement and position will also have to be highlighted," Smale said.