Langton Tinago

Tinago to be given rousing send off

Ngqwele Dube
EULOGIES are coming in thick and fast, and everyone is making plans to attend his funeral and praying to be given space to make a graveyard speech, which they are practising, hoping it will be the catchiest.

For the late boxing great, Langton a�?School Boya�? Tinago, who passed away on Tuesday morning in Gweru, it wona��t come as a surprise from where he is watching.

Speaking to the media early this year he captured a queer characteristic that has pervaded us when he aptly said:

a�?I know Zimbabweans are fond of passing glowing eulogies when someone dies yet they would have never bothered to check on him or her during the days when that person needed them the most.a�?

It could have been the pugilista��s cry for help in times of need or calling attention to how those we call our heroes, once the glory has died, are left to wallow in their own devices until they pass on then we decide to dedicate attention to them.

Tinagoa��s cry is one too many superstars have trekked and more are likely to travel that road.

Born in 1949 in Shurugwi, Tinago etched his name into the history books when he won three Commonwealth titles, two lightweight crowns (1980 and 1986) and a super-featherweight (1983), a feat that led him to getting a place in the Guinness Book of Records.

A befitting send-off would be to see the country hasten to make a return to the Commonwealth and give local boxers a chance to participate in the various tournaments that are held by the grouping.

Upcoming boxers, whom he was eager to see grow, could get a chance to carve their own history and follow in his footsteps.

They say an apple does not fall far from the tree and Tinago had hoped his son, Breland would carry the torch after the youngster, then 17, won gold during the National Youth Games that were held in Gwanda in 2011.

Breland was one of the four boxers that emerged from School Boya��s Action Youth Stable in the Midlands in that edition of the Youth Games.

However, although he showed initial brilliance in the sport he has struggled to rise to prominence.

The first lady to man the Womena��s Desk at the Zimbabwe Amateur Boxing Association, Faith Whata said she first came across Tinago in 2004 following her appointment and she was struck by how the former Commonwealth champion remained rooted in the sport despite being frail and struggling financially.

a�?He was a man of his word and was dedicated to the sport and loved to develop youngsters. Although he was down financially he did not give up,a�? she said.

Former bantam weight champion, Morgan Maphosa said he came across Tinago when he joined the Red Seal Boxing stable in the early eighties and he was one of the boxers looked upon due to his exploits in the sport.

He said Langton was always in the gym because of his passion for boxing and he taught all boxers discipline and respect, which he believed one needed in the sport.

a�?He treated everyone he interacted with like a family member and would call most of us cousin and liked the expression a�?yes khazia�? hence the nickname a�?Gazia�? as everyone ended up calling him that and it stuck.

a�?I was in the same Red Seal boxing stable being trained by David Wellings. There was Langton, Kid power, Killi Smart, Snake Stix and Richard Rova among others,a�? said Maphosa.

He said it was unfortunate little recognition was given to Tinago in his retirement as he was one of the most illustrious black boxers to emerge in the country.

Zimbabwe Boxing Board of Control rightly awarded the pugilist the Best Boxer of the Century award although there was no monetary reward.