ANY other athlete would have thrown in the towel.
But, boxer Monalisa Sibanda (35), is made of sterner staff.
Not only did she dare to navigate her way, in a male-dominated game of boxing, she also spent over two decades in the trenches without anything to show for it.
“I met some abusive promoters, casual managers and incompetent coaches along the way,” said Sibanda.
“It has been a bumpy road and I could have easily hung my gloves but my mind kept on urging me to muddle on.
“It was tough growing up. I was raised by my maternal grandmother in Mabvuku, after my mother had passed on. My grandmother, surrounded by several orphaned grandchildren, had little on her plate.
“It was a real struggle. You had to stand your ground.”
The toughness she got, both from the family and at Mabvuku Primary School where she met some little bullies, conditioned her well.
“I sought refuge in a certain boxing club housed at Red Bull Hall near Donnybrook Primary School.
“It was sort of a ‘taboo’ for girls to venture into boxing but I decided to defy all that. I became the first female boxer to emerge from Zimbabwe.”
The hesitance by girls to enter the ring meant Sibanda would take long to find an opponent and she ended up challenging boys.
It was not until 2009 when Sibanda finally tested how it feels to win a significant accolade, in international boxing.
She grabbed gold, beating host country’s Marry Mostapha in the decisive bout in the DR Congo, in a tournament that pitted Southern African countries against their Eastern counterparts.
“Given my background, and what I had gone through in my career, I just discovered that God is alive.
“I was on cloud nine and couldn’t believe it was really Monalisa Sibanda who had won gold.”
Nine years later, Sibanda wrestled the Women International Boxing Association World Intercontinental light-welterweight title when she beat Kenya’s Joice Awino last year.
The “Queen of the Jungle”, was supposed to defend her crown on Independence Day against challenger, Happy “Sniper” Daudi of Tanzania, at the City Sports Centre.
But, the bout was shelved due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“It means I will hold on to the belt a bit longer but I would have wanted to fight on April 18. I am geared for that fight any day, any time.Close
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“I have to retain it. The fact that I will be fighting in front of my home fans means I will have an advantage over my opponent.”
Coached by Frenando Tom, Sibanda, who is one of the first five female boxers to venture into the sport in Africa, has since registered her academy, Dynamite Sports Trust.
“I have seen the worst in my career. Some promoters have been taken advantage of me and this is the reason I had to secure a licence and register my own promotion stable.
“This is meant to help others not to fall into the same pit which almost ended my career.”
Frenando, who has worked with Sibanda over the last two years describes her as the definition of female boxing in Zimbabwe.
“Monalisa (Sibanda) is an icon. She is very patient, that’s why she is also very good in the ring. She has endured a lot and has achieved a lot in her quest for glory.
“I think she will be able to defend her WIBA title when the bout is allowed to proceed,” he said.
Clyde Musonda, who is promoting Sibanda’s next fight through his Gypsite Boxing Promotions, said Sibanda has been an inspiration to female boxers in Zimbabwe