Boxing legend Mzi Mnguni, who is recuperating from a stroke, was showered with birthday messages yesterday as he celebrated his 70th birthday.
The promoter, who is probably the biggest boxing personality to ever emerge from the Eastern Cape, is wheelchair-bound due to a heart attack he suffered three years ago.
Mnguni produced a number of world champions including Welcome Ncita, Vuyani Bungu, Zolani Petelo, Mbulelo Botile and Hawk Makepula, while also helping youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds to realise their boxing potential through his icon Eyethu Boxing Club.
Touched by messages flooding his inbox, Mnguni said he felt honoured that people had not forgotten about him.
“I’ve been out of the limelight for a while but people have not forgotten the contribution I made in boxing,” he said.
Among those who sent him a special message was his long- time friend and ally Rodney Berman.
Mnguni and Berman worked together to produce the biggest number of world champions in a relationship between a black and white person during the apartheid era.
“Mzi will always have a special place not only in my heart but in my role in boxing because it was through him that I was able to enhance my brand because of the boxers he supplied me with,” Berman said yesterday.
“We formed the best of a faithful friendship and working relationship when it was not fashionable to have such between black and white people.”
Berman, who organised a special tournament to pay tribute to Mnguni at Orient Theatre last December, said he was keen to help Mnguni’s boxers with fights.
The Eyethu Boxing Club currently boast one national champion in SA junior-lightweight star Phila Mpontshane, who has not tasted action since lifting the title from Aphiwe Mboyiya last December.
Boxing SA provincial manager Phakamile Jacobs also sent his wishes to Mnguni.
Despite often butting heads with Mnguni when the former wanted things to go his way, Jacobs still benefited from the boxing legend as he enjoyed a free office space in Mnguni’s Mdantsane Sun Hotel.
“There is no doubt that Mnguni was the Mr Boxing in the region and that helped boost the image of the sport,” said Jacobs.
“This is why we all need to embrace and honour him while he is still alive. I wish God could give him many more years to be with us.”