One of the most successful partnerships in SA boxing history will be celebrated in November when Golden Gloves hosts a tribute tournament for Mzi Mnguni in East London.
In a cracking headliner, IBO minimumweight champion Simphiwe Khonco will put his title on the line at the Orient Theatre against former IBF champion Nkosinathi Joyi – an Eastern Cape clash for the ages.
SuperSport will broadcast the tournament live on November 20.
The main undercard fight pits SA super-middleweight champion Lee Dyer against local hero Giovanni Bushby – famously described by top Eastern Cape boxing writer Mesuli Zifo as a “white who can fight”, hence his popularity – for the African Union title.
Mnguni is a titan of SA boxing, having produced an array of world champions, among them Welcome Ncita, Vuyani Bungu, Mbulelo Botile and Zolani Petelo, all from impoverished backgrounds.
The trainer’s association with Golden Gloves began in 1988, most memorably with Ncita, and flourished until recently when illness struck him down and curtailed his movement. Loyalty was Mnguni’s middle name and he and promoter Rodney Berman worked together like brothers, even when it wasn’t fashionable for South African blacks and whites to do so.
“It was never a promoter-manager relationship. We were friends, plain and simple,” said Berman. “We never worked with signed contracts. Everything was done on a handshake. It has been my absolute privilege to have enjoyed his friendship.
“Our business code was simple: he produced the champions, we promoted them. He was a genius and he kept us busy producing one champion after the other.”
Golden Gloves is still putting the bill together, but one of the fights will see East London star Ayanda Dulani try and improve on his shock draw with DeeJay Kriel earlier this year.
Golden Gloves intends inviting as many of Mnguni’s former champions as possible to attend, plus local dignitaries and boxing power brokers to ensure a memorable evening that pays due homage to one of the most influential figures SA boxing has ever known.
“I am saddened by his illness, but encouraged by his great strength,” said Berman. “I’m delighted to be doing this show in conjunction with SuperSport.”