Senior Sports Reporter
NEWLY crowned Japanese Ambassador Cup Karate tournament heavyweight champion Benson Mbweya says he is excited to be back in the competition after spending two years on the sidelines following an accident that left him with a broken leg.
Saturday’s tournament held by the Zimbabwe Karate Union, was his first in two years and he emerged winner by defeating Joseph Karimazondo in a tightly contested final that could have gone either way.
“I was involved in an accident and broke my leg. So, I spent two years away from the sport recovering, and I wasn’t training in those two years. So, I just started training again this year.
“The final was a bit tough, but I prevailed because of hard work in training. This was my first tournament this year. I am really happy to be back. I am so excited,” said Mbweya.
In other fights, Tafadzwa Mutize won the men’s 70kgs after beating Shingirai Garisa while Takunda Madamombe claimed the 60kg weight division.
The boys Under-50kg title went to Elijah Marimba, and Tanaka Mugwagwa won the Boys Open.
Ronald Katiyo won the Boys Under-25kg by defeating Junior Chinogwireyi.
The Boys Under-30kg title went to Prosper Mutinhima. Tadiwa Chikoto emerged tops in the Boys Under-35kg and Lionel Kadzima claimed the Under-40kg.
Ngonidzashe Chiringa emerged winner in the Under-45kg.
In the Girls Under-20kg, Anisha Mufundisi claimed the title and Tariro Chimwala emerged winner in the Under-30kg.
Mufaro Muringani and Tendai Chikohomera were crowned champions in the Girls Under-35kg and Under-50kg respectively. Mitchell Mabheka won the Girls Open.
ZKU president, Tawanda Mufundisi, described the event as a success despite some of the fighters failing to turn up.
“Our tournament went well but with participants fewer than we expected.
“I think that was because we got strict on starting time and stuff…The issue of time has been killing our events because most events we were finishing very late, which is not good for kids. So, to avoid that we had to start right on time and I think it will reap rewards soon.
“We were expecting over 400 athletes, but ended up having just over 200, which was not a bad number though.
“We had very good, skilful fighters. The guys are doing very well even in the junior category. The girl child has proven that she is getting dominant…and the girls displayed very good prowess.
“It means we are getting somewhere, we just need to keep our focus up,” said Mufundisi.
With new talent dominating the competition, Mufundisi commended the upcoming karatekas for their efforts.
“We had a lot of surprises with the new timers like first timer in the heavyweight, Benson Mbweya. He did very well. He surprised everybody because it was his first time and he won the men’s Open.
“And also, Anisha Mufundisi, she won the girls’ Under-20kg, she is six-years-old, she stole the show, she was the youngest fighter and then she got a gold, which is nice as well.
“We had one Jonathan Nyagwaya, he gave his opponents a good run for their money being a new fighter as well. I think it was his second or third tournament, but he did very well coming out fourth, fighting against the best.
“Joseph Karimazondo had a very good fight against the Men’s Open heavyweight champion, Benson Mbweya, and is slowly becoming a force to reckon with.”
ZKU still has a few upcoming tournaments before it wraps up the 2023 season.