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Berman thrills ailing Mnguni

By Bongani Magasela | 2016-11-18 09:23:16.0

True friends are hard to find, says emotional former top trainer Mzimasi Mnguni.

The ailing mentor was reacting to the generosity that has been shown by his friend, promoter Rodney Berman, who will stage a boxing tournament in East London on Sunday to honour their 18-year union.

Berman will stage a five-bout tournament at Orient Theatre to pay tribute to Mnguni, 67, whose poor health has confined him to a wheelchair following a series of strokes.

He said Berman has shown true friendship. "I cannot properly explain how I feel about what Rodney is doing for me," he said.

"Most friends don't remember others during such trying times. I did not think our partnership would go this far but it lasted for almost 20 years. That is because we were honest towards each other."

Berman and Mnguni started working together in 1988. The two produced their first world champion in 1990 when Mnguni's charge Welcome Ncita won the IBF junior featherweight belt in Israel.

They went on to produce well over 10 credible world champions, including Vuyani Bungu who remains the only local world champion to defend his title 13 times.

Mnguni is a shadow of the once-imposing figure. His life turned bad in 2012 when he was involved a car crash that left two occupants of the other car dead. That was followed by a series of strokes. It was then that Mnguni took a back seat and allowed his brother Sihle to take care of the business.

Mnguni said he and Berman produced world champions not only for themselves but also for the country. "I would not have succeeded alone had it not been for Rodney's backing," he said.

The tournament on Sunday will headlined by the IBO mini flyweight championship between holder Simpiwe "Chain Reaction" Konkco and Nkosinathi "Mabere" Joyi.

USA-based IBO president Edward Levine said: "We are looking forward to the IBO fight between our world champion Simpiwe versus our former champion Joyi in tribute to Mzi Mnguni. Mnguni has contributed so much to South African boxing and hopefully the show will help him in his recovery from his medical issues."

Action will begin at 2pm.