FLOYD Mayweather Jnr, who landed in Zimbabwe on Thursday on a visit he calls the “Motherland Tour”, has been roped into Zanu PF’s election campaign by his host, parliamentary aspirant Pedzisayi “Scott” Sakupwanya.
The controversial youthful entrepreneur, who is said to be wealthy, is vying to be MP on a ruling party ticket in his home area of Mabvuku, a sprawling township in Harare.
Sakupwanya initially invited the world-famous retired American boxer to Zimbabwe after they bumped into each other during a vacation abroad.
Although veiled efforts have been made to de-politicise the trip by making a local jewellery company the tour organiser, Sakupwanya and his handlers are hoping to charm the voters of Mabvuku, especially the youth, using Mayweather’s celebrity status.
The 46-year-old Mayweather Jnr will hand over a donation comprising a boxing ring to Zimbabwe’s Sports minister Kirsty Coventry, Africa’s greatest Olympian.
The ring was sourced by Sakupwanya’s Better Brands and the Zimbabwe National Boxing and Wrestling Board of Control. It is no coincidence that the donation will be made in Mabvuku, where Sakupwanya is contesting.
Mabvuku is not the bedrock of boxing in Harare. Boxing is more popular in places like Mbare but because it is Sakupwanya behind the tour, a lot is at stake in Mabvuku.
Previously, Sakupwanya and his clique have funded sports tournaments and music galas while they sip on expensive champagnes, quaffing high-end whiskey and puffing on shisha while the poverty-stricken youths dance in the dust until the break of dawn.
Besides the lavish parties, Sakupwanya has also been dolling out food hampers to the elderly, a move the youths say was disempowering if not sustainable.
And Sakupwanya is stopping at nothing to win the Mabvuku seat for the ruling Zanu PF, using his financial muscle to finance free shuttle buses to and from the city centre in the suburb. By bringing the global boxing icon to Mabvuku, Sakupwanya hopes to drum up support not just for himself but also for Zanu PF.
An elated Mayweather touched down early Thursday morning at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport to a hero’s welcome. Clad in a camo outfit, black T-shirt and a matching flat base cap flipped sideways, The Money Man arrived aboard his 22-seat US$50 million Gulf stream private jet emblazoned with his surname — Mayweather — looking fresh and bubbly.
The Money Man, who claims to be a billionaire but is thought to be worth US$450m, was welcomed at the airport by a traditional dance group, symbolising warm Zimbabwean hospitality — even joining the troupe in song and dance.
While in the shuttle bus, The Money Man pulled some stunts before beaming to the cameras, saying:” I am back home . . . I am back where I belong . . . I am back home.”
His host, Sakupwanya, made his fortune from gold, and like Mayweather, is known for a flamboyant lifestyle, complete with flashy displays of cash and expensive cars.
A convoy of luxury cars and a police escort were part of the warm reception that The Money Man got as he was taken to his hotel. Mayweather Jnr handed over a boxing ring in Mabvuku before he briefly addressed the crowd.
The NewsHawks, however, has been told by sources that Mayweather — through his handlers — has been advised not to go all out into the political campaign, to protect his brand.
And Sakupwanya seized the opportunity to launch his election campaign, addressing journalists.
“People thought I could not bring Mayweather, but now I have been vindicated and people should trust me with the office and vote for Zanu PF,” he said.
Sakupwanya rose to prominence in 2020 when pictures of him posing with gold bars and cash amounting to what was said to be US$5 million went viral.
His flashy lifestyle is similar to that of Mayweather Jnr.
In the Gold Mafia documentary, “a four-part investigation by Al Jazeera’s investigative unit which revealed a series of gold smuggling gangs in southern Africa”, self-styled prophet Uebert Angel said Sakupwanya was “the biggest gold guy in Zimbabwe. He’s right there; he’s in his house, sleeping on five million US dollars.”
According to Al Jazeera, Sakupwanya used to be a domestic worker for another implicated gold dealer, Ewan MacMillan, but has since overtaken his former boss.
MacMillan was also featured in the documentary. In one of the interviews, he claimed: “I have [Zimbabwean President Emmerson] Mnangagwa’s gold-studded Rolex because the son ran into debt and had to pay the debt off.”
“I paid the debt off and he said: ‘Please don’t tell my dad.’ I’ve got the dad’s watch; it’s blue-faced with gold studs.”
The retired American legend is one of the greatest boxers of all time and his success in the ring has enabled him to accumulate enormous wealth throughout his career.
By some estimates, Mayweather Jnr’s net worth is US$450 million and he has earned more than US$1.1 billion throughout his career, making him the richest boxer of all time.
He remains an inspiration to many sport enthusiasts.