Tributes pour in for late boxing icon Mzi Mnguni

Mzi Mnguni is flanked by champion boxers Nkosinathi Joyi, left, and Simphiwe Konkco.
Mzi Mnguni is flanked by champion boxers Nkosinathi Joyi, left, and Simphiwe Konkco.
Image: ALAN EASON

Tributes are pouring in for the late boxing icon Mzimasi Mnguni who died after a long illness on Saturday morning.

He was 73 years old.

As the boxing world is still in a state of shock, government officials and boxing people shared grief over the death of the legend. 

Mnguni, fondly known as Mr Boxing, received numerous accolades for his outstanding contribution to the fistic game including IBF trainer of the year, becoming the only one in the country to be bestowed with that honour.

This was after he produced several IBF world champion starting with Welcome Ncita, who became the first boxer from the Eastern Cape to do so and only the second black in the country after Peter Mathebula.

Other notable boxers he produced include Vuyani Bungu, who remains the only SA boxer to defend a world title a record 13 times, Mbulelo Botile, who was the first boxer in the province to win two division world titles when he reigned as the IBF bantamweight and featherweight champion.

Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane described Mnguni's death as shocking and a sad loss.

“Mr Mnguni invested time, energy and wisdom in developing boxers in our province from his Eyethu Boxing Club in Mdantsane, where he first came on board as a sponsor of boxers and later turned different generations of boxers into national and world champions,” said Mabuyane  through his spokesperson Mvusiwekhaya Sicwetsha.

Sicwetsha said Mabuyane would be writing to President Cyril Ramaphosa to request approval of the declaration of Mnguni’s funeral service in honour of the contribution he made in the development of sport.

“We send our heartfelt condolences and sympathies to Mr Mnguni’s family, friends and colleagues in the sport of boxing and in the business sectors he was involved in,” he said.

“While his passing is the last round of the main bout of his life, Mr Mnguni’s legacy and contribution in boxing is an ever fixed mark in the boxing world and life of scores of the boxers he mentored. We have a moral duty to keep on supporting boxing so that our province can regain its position as the home of boxing champions.”

Eastern Cape Boxing Promoters Association expressed grief.

“Mnguni played a big role in elevating the standard of boxing in the country, first as a trainer, manager and later a promoter,” said chairman Thando Zonke.

“It is through his sterling work that promoters are generally accepted as a core in the boxing sector.”

Buffalo City Metro mayor Xola Pakati also paid tribute to the fallen icon.

Pakati said Mguni took many young people off the streets and made them boxing legends.

“His work inspired generations of young fighters who continue to escape crime and other social ills by staying in the ring and in the boxing gym,” said Pakati.

“His life work made our city, particularly Mdantsane, an even better place for one to live and be proud to have grown in. All people of Buffalo City are proud of being associated with our character as a boxing city. We owe this to the work of Bra Mzi Mnguni and for this we are deeply thankful.”

Mnguni's funeral arrangements are yet to be announced.

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