Former boxing champion tries to “turn off” drugs in Zimbabwe – archyde

In Zimbabwe, a former boxing champion is using his skills to teach the next generation and hopefully help keep impoverished young people away from drugs and crime.

Anthony Possible Mapako, 24, trains at the Mosquito Boxing School of Excellence with founder and trainer Zvenyika Arifonso.

The former street fighter and drug user from the poor Mbare suburb of Harare says things have changed since he attended Arifonso’s school.

Anthony Possible Mapako, 24, left, trains on November 21, 2021 at the Mosquito Boxing School of Excellence with founder and coach Zvenyika Arifonso in Harare. (Columbus Mavhunga / VOA)

“I always say: ‘Thank you, Coach.’ . . . [H]Not only is he a boxing instructor, he can even change your mind about the bad things you think – he can change you. Like what he did to me. He changed my mind because the only thing I thought about was beating up people in this Mbare ghetto and having a popular name as a street fighter. But he changed my mind and said, ‘You can be a boxer and you can be a champion.’ “

Arifonso, 44, started the academy after leaving boxing. As a fighter, he was known as the “Mosquito” because he “spurred” his opponents. Now he focuses on helping young people in need in the Mbare community.

“I am participating in this project because I wanted to prevent children from substance abuse, trafficking and stealing because these young people commit a lot of crimes,” he said. “When you’re drunk, dozed off on those drugs, it’s very bad. So I decided to open this club to rehabilitate them and teach them life. You have life. When someone is out of school, it is very difficult to deal with. The moment he understands what you are saying, he will come back to his senses. “

Arifonso now has around 120 students divided into three groups per day. He hopes that some will become professional boxers.

Zimbabwe’s Mosquito Boxing School of Excellence with founder and trainer Zvenyika Arifonso in his academy in Harare on February 11, 21, 2021 (Columbus Mavhunga / VOA)

Shingai Gwatidzo of the Zimbabwe Drug Control Agency said drug abuse among youth is a “scourge” that needs to be tackled as soon as possible.

“As such, we try to do a lot to reduce supply and demand,” said Gwatidzo. “As for the offer, we’re working with law enforcement agencies to try to contain illegal substances entering the country. In terms of demand, we are trying to educate the public about the dangers of engaging in illegal substance abuse. This is a multi-stakeholder issue that we need to address. “

Arifonso is working to get help so that he can set up programs in other poor townships and get more young people off drugs.

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