'Bungu belongs in the Hall of Fame'

Former IBF junior featherweight champion Vuyani Bungu. / Raymond Preston
Former IBF junior featherweight champion Vuyani Bungu. / Raymond Preston
Image: RAYMOND PRESTON

Top boxing promoter Rodney Berman has made an impassioned plea to the International Boxing Hall of Fame to honour former IBF junior featherweight undefeated champion Vuyani "The Beast" Bungu.

Bungu holds the record of being the only SA boxer to defend his world title 13 times.

In a petition to Ed Brophy - who heads up the famous institution in upstate New York - Berman pointed out that Bungu was most deserving, especially as he was democratic SA's first world champion.

"Bungu captured the IBF junior featherweight championship in 1994 with a massive upset of Kennedy McKinney - a former Olympic gold medallist," said Berman.

The fight was staged in Hammanskraal, north of Pretoria. "The esteemed Ring magazine named it 'Upset of the Year' and thus began a remarkable championship career.

"What made his achievements more remarkable is that they were forged in spartan circumstances, Bungu fighting out of a basic gym in Mdantsane and living in a tiny house."

Bungu later moved up to featherweight, losing to Prince Naseem Hamed, but nonetheless ranks among the greatest of South African fighters.

"He was always tremendously exciting," said Berman.

"But I think it's been forgotten just how good a fighter he was. For a period of four or five years he was unbeatable.

"He really deserves international recognition, having been retired for 13 years."

Bungu hung up his gloves with a 39-5 record and now works as a trainer in East London.

International referee and judge Stan Christodoulou, and former two-time undefeated WBA and IBF junior lightweight champion Brian Mitchell are the only two South Africans in the Hall of Fame.

"Bungu's induction, you can be sure, is long overdue," added Berman.

X