With the passing of the great Nelson Mandela, the world is grieving and searching for any small tidbit about him that might give some significant insight into his life.
Nelson Mandela, who died December 5th in his home in Johannesburg, will be remembered as a great leader of peace, his presidency and so much more.
But Mandela had many other interests that you won’t find in his obituary.
His ties to Rugby were well noted in the imaginative way he helped to unite his country via the South African team, the Springboks. The event was stunningly portrayed in the Clint Eastwood directed film Invictus, where Mandela was portrayed by the actor, Morgan Freeman.
But, many may not know that Mandela was a boxer during his long stint in that apartheid prison in which he spent 27 years of his life. He used boxing, and other sports to keep himself fit, and as he put it – in his autobiography – The Long Walk to Freedom, “Boxing is egalitarian. In the ring, rank, age, color, and wealth are irrelevant… I found the rigorous exercise to be an excellent outlet for tension and stress… It was a way of losing myself in something that was not the struggle. After an evening’s workout I would wake up the next morning feeling strong and refreshed, ready to take up the fight again.”
He also commented on boxing, saying “I did not enjoy the violence of boxing so much as the science of it. I was intrigued by how one moved one’s body to protect oneself, how one used a strategy both to attack and retreat, how one paced oneself over a match.“
He had a special affect on one of the greatest boxers of all time, Muhammad Ali – who said about Mandela, “What I will remember most about Mr. Mandela is that he was a man whose heart, soul and spirit could not be contained or restrained by racial and economic injustices, metal bars or the burden of hate and revenge. He taught us forgiveness on a grand scale.
“He inspired others to reach for what appeared to be impossible and moved them to break through the barriers that held them hostage mentally, physically, socially and economically. He made us realize, we are our brother’s keeper and that our brothers come in all colors.”
HBO – during Saturday night’s Boxing After Dark tripleheader telecast from Atlantic City will replay clips of a 2001 interview with former South African President Nelson Mandela. The interviewer was Larry Merchant from Mandela’s home in Mozambique, the two discussed the icon’s involvement with and appreciation of boxing.
Image via YouTube