'I am because he was, that man made me'

Zantsi pays tribute to 'father figure' Mnguni

Multiple award winning boxing promoter Mbali Zantsi remembers her fallen mentor Mzimasi Mnguni.
Multiple award winning boxing promoter Mbali Zantsi remembers her fallen mentor Mzimasi Mnguni.

Never mind what anybody wants you to believe, the truth, according to accomplished female boxing promoter Mbali “Don Queen” Zantsi, is that fallen boxing trainer and promoter Mzimasi Mnguni was the godfather of boxing, particularly in the Eastern Cape.

Zantsi was Mnguni’s protégé before she later became a multiple award-winning promoter. In her emotional tribute to her mentor, who succumbed to poor health on Saturday morning a few hours before the family buried his older sister, Zantsi said: “I am because he was; that man made me. He was my best critic. He would tell me straight if I blundered and also be the first to congratulate me when I had done well. We had a father-daughter type of relationship. He saw me as a business partner; he gave it to me clean. I have nothing but praises for him.”

Mnguni had suffered severely mentally, spiritually and physically when all of a sudden he was unable to walk after his first stroke in 2014. His Land Rover crashed into a bakkie and two of the three occupants in the other car died.

“I think it is time for him to rest,” Zantsi said. "He’s run his race, engraved his name in boxing history books. Either Bra Mzi was strong or he had good people looking after him.”

She said Mnguni taught her many things and that include speaking to sponsors, television houses and organise tournaments.

Zantsi of Showtime Boxing Promotions said Mnguni literally held her by the hand. “There were even allegations that I was fronting for him, but we just ignored all that and focused on the bigger picture. Little did I know that that attention was good for boxing; I dealt with questions and controversies."

Meanwhile, veteran administrator, a former internationally renowned boxing referee, but now BSA’s manager in East London, Phakamile Jacobs, explained that Mnguni started out as a fan and later became a manager in 1982.

“In that year he produced his first SA champion in Mveleli Luzipho,” said Jacobs. “Mnguni later joined the international boxing through Rodney Berman as a manager of Welcome Ncita.

“On March 4 1990 in Tel Aviv (Israel), Welcome won the IBF junior featherweight title. Mnguni carried on producing more champions like Vuyani Bungu, who defended his IBF title 13 times, Mbulelo Botile, Zolani Petelo, Masibulele Makepula, Lindi Memani, Ali Funeka, Thabo Sonjica and Zolani Tete."

Mnguni’s younger brother Sihle said the fallen hero's funeral service is on Saturday in East London. "We will lay him to rest the following day in our home village in Alice,” he said.

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