Emotional Welcome Ncita sheds tears recalling what Bra Mzi Mnguni did for him

19 February 2021 - 15:00
Welcome Ncita, Simpiwe Vetyeka and referee Roberto Ramirez during the vacant IBO International Boxing Organisation bantamweight title bout between Simpiwe Vetyeka and Eric Barcelona at Emperor's Palace on the July 11 2009 in Kempton Park, Gauteng.
Welcome Ncita, Simpiwe Vetyeka and referee Roberto Ramirez during the vacant IBO International Boxing Organisation bantamweight title bout between Simpiwe Vetyeka and Eric Barcelona at Emperor's Palace on the July 11 2009 in Kempton Park, Gauteng.
Image: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images

Who said tigers don't cry? Boxers are perceived to be hard but they also have their soft spots.

Welcome “The Hawk” Ncita — who came across dangerous opponents during his heyday as a pro boxer — broke down when he reminisced about the man who made his dreams come true as a fighter.

Ncita, could not contain his emotions when asked to describe the influence on his career of legendary Eastern Cape promoter‚ manager and trainer Mzimasi Mnguni‚ who died aged 73 this past weekend.

“His picture just can’t disappear in my mind and it is impossible to ignore it and at times I find myself laughing alone and wiping tears when I think that I will not see Bra Mzi ever again‚” said Ncita‚ who was Mnguni’s first SA champion after Mnguni became his manager in 1982. That was the year Mnguni got involved in boxing.

Ncita — an 11-fight upstart — dazzled ring veteran Johannes “Baby Joe” Miya with footwork and fast hands to end his reign as the flyweight champ in 1986.

“Look‚ I met Bra Mzi when I was still very young. He literally became my father and he played a role in my life growing up. I shared with him my dreams and aspirations‚ and he made it possible for me to achieve them.

“I travelled the world‚ I became famous and I also become a father to my immediate family through his teachings.”

Ncita added the IBF junior featherweight belt to his collection, becoming the first boxer from the Eastern Cape to win an IBF belt‚ one of the four topmost respected sanctioning bodies. The others Ncita won were the WBA‚ WBC and WBO belts  — in 1990.

Mzi did a lot‚ yet he never made noise about it. He impacted on people’s lives positively, even outside the gym.
Welcome Ncita

Mnguni trained and managed fighters — something that was brought to an end by the Boxing SA Act of 2001‚ which prohibits someone from holding both licences. Mnguni was assisted by his nephew‚ Welsh, who died in 2009.

An assertive Mnguni — sometimes arrogant and fiery — suffered a stroke in 2015 that confined him to a wheelchair until he died on Saturday morning at the age of 73.

“I saw Bra Mzi suffer mentally and physically since he had to rely on people to do things for him and was also unable to attend boxing matches. Look‚ some people misunderstand you and actually see you as lacking humanity when you look at the painful situation unfolding in front of you without anything to do to change it‚ and you make an opinion.

“It has been painful to me to hear that Bra Mzi was in and out of hospital. You see the man’s health deteriorating for the worst and you begin to ask if there another way God can remedy the situation.

“Mzi spent his entire life in boxing but all of a sudden he could not be part of that — at times he found himself alone. That is not a life you wish for anyone.”

Ncita — who lost the IBF belt in his seventh defence to revered American Kennedy McKinney in 1992 — added: “Sadly, when God intervened again I could not accept the fate. Even right now I still feel the pain — it’s gonna be here for a long time.

“You walk past Mdantsane Hotel, you think of him; watch boxing and you think of him. We are hurting and the sport lost a dedicated soldier who sacrificed a lot for boxing.

“There are lots of people who make noise and claim to have done this and that, but when you sit back and look at their claim you realise they have done nothing. Mzi did a lot‚ yet he never made noise about it. He impacted on people’s lives positively, even outside the gym.

“Me and Mzi discovered later that we are related. His death is a big blow but under the circumstances he was in‚ you can say he’s at peace. We will meet again.”


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