I've lost a real friend, says Mzi Mnguni on departed Champion

Late promoter and church leader Andile 'Champion' Bakubaku
Late promoter and church leader Andile 'Champion' Bakubaku

The passing on of 61-year-old veteran boxing promoter Andile "Champion" Bakubaku on Monday night has deeply hurt his friend and former colleague Mzimasi Mnguni.

"I heard about his death and it is so painful," said Mnguni yesterday. "Champion was my friend and he visited me last month."

Mnguni - himself not too well - said he produced most of the world champions with Bakubaku. He assisted trainers "Boy Boy" Mpulampula and Welsh Mnguni at the famous Eyethu Boxing Gym in Mdantsane outside East London, Eastern Cape.

Mnguni said Bakubaku never boxed. "He was into church," he said, explaining why Bakubaku was also referred to as "Bishop".

He had his own church. Bakubaku from King William's Town later became a Boxing SA-registered promoter and traded under Champion and Son Promotion.

Boxing SA Eastern Cape manager Phakamile Jacobs said he was informed telephonically by Eastern Cape Promoters Association chairman Thando Zonke about Bakubaku's passing.

"Champion did his share in boxing; dedicating his life to the sport," said Jacobs. "He started entering boxing as a fan of Sidima Qhina (former SA junior lightweight champion). After that Michael Guwa, who was Qhina's manager, roped in Bakubaku as a seconder (bucket boy) and he later established his gym in Endevane where he had his own bucket boys."

Jacobs added: "Champion then negotiated with Mnguni and they became friends, and he slowly got involved in the sport until he later became his own man as a promoter. We have lost a real man here. Champion was a man of peace, where people fought he would come and intervene under his cap of being a bishop."

Jacobs said even when a member of the boxing fraternity had passed on, he would take Bakubaku with him to comfort family members.

"He was a very nice person who was loved by all due to his jokes," said Jacobs.

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