BEFORE Dereck Chisora’s comeback win at the weekend against Robert Filipovic, his friend and long time trainer Don Charles aptly summed up the Zimbabwean-born British boxer’s in-born fighting spirit.
By Enock Muchinjo
“Dereck has got his mojo back and is absolutely on fire in the gym,” Charles remarked.
The former British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion is preparing for his European heavyweight title fight against German Agit Kayabel in November.
Charles added of Musora: “Dereck and I regrouped. I reminded him of his roots, how he had been successful and why he had been successful. We have retraced his steps, going right way back to his runs and his old lifestyle to restore him back to what he was once upon a time.”
What he was once upon a time, as told to me by his uncle Paul De Souza, also owes to Chisora’s upbringing in Zimbabwe.
De Souza, a martial art enthusiast and former Dynamos Football Club bouncer, remembers growing up with his nephew at the family house in Hatfield, and noticing early on the youngster’s fighting streak.
Angelo De Souza (now late), Paul’s father and Chisora’s step grandfather, hailed from Portugal.
An electrician by trade, Angelo was a Portuguese war veteran who served his native country in Angola and Mozambique.
After migrating to this country, he was, rather reluctantly, recruited into the Rhodesian army.
Love-struck De Souza would defy Rhodesia’s racially divisive system to marry Dereck’s maternal grandmother Phyllis Masarakufa in the 1970s, a union that produced two mixed-race sons, Paul and Aires.
From her previous marriage, Masarakufa had been blessed with daughter Viola Tavengwa, Dereck’s mother.
So after Tavengwa divorced Paul Chisora, Dereck’s father, the little boy moved from Harare’s high-density suburb of Mbare, aged four, to live with his step grandfather and grandmother in Hatfield.
So from the rough childhood of Mbare, Chisora would enjoy a comfortable middle-class upbringing in the loving care of his grandparents in Hatfield, up until the age of 16 when he joined his mother in the UK.
“It was very hard for him after my sister Viola’s divorce, but my father really liked the boy and he said he must come to live with us,” says De Souza.
“He went to Churchill (School), but he had a bad disciplinary record, too many fights, and dad had to be called to school several times.”
It was during that time that uncle Paul noticed the youngster’s aggressive nature, and nurtured it.
De Souza, just like his late father, is also a gifted electrician — a chip off the old block. But he has not been employed for quite a while now and is going through a period of great anguish in his life, often drowning sorrows in substandard and cheap booze, a far cry from the glitz and glamour of professional sport lived by his nephew.
Occasionally though, Chisora calls him and bails him out.
“He says sekuru, I’m sending you something. But he cannot do that all the time.”
De Souza follows his nephew’s career and is already looking beyond the Kayabel fight on November 4.
It is the proposed rematch against Dallian Whyte that he is eagerly looking forward to.
Whyte won the all-British clash last December by a split decision.
“Dereck will finish him this time,” he declares.
“I’m not going to sleep after that, celebrating the whole night!”