Lottie Mwale remembered


THE devastating punches of a man that religiously dedicated his life to boxing, Lottie Mwale, were re-called yesterday, 11 years after his death. He remains Zambia’s boxing legend, the greatest. Lottie Mwale was fondly called “Gunduzani” which means ‘‘shake them’’ in the Chewa language of Eastern Province, and “Kaingo” meaning  the leopard. The World Boxing Council light-heavyweight, Commonwealth and African Boxing Union champion put Zambia on the world boxing map with a record 34 knock-outs in 53 fights. The Zambian legend died on October 18, 2005, aged 53, after a six-year battle with Parkinson’s- disease, resulting from constant blows to the head. The same disease claimed former world heavyweight boxing icon Muhammad Ali who died early this year. Zambia Professional Boxing and Wrestling Control Board (ZPBWCB) chairperson Nelson Sapi described Mwale as a boxer who fought with patriotism and raised the Zambian flag high. Sapi said Lottie’s hard work and dedication laid the foundation for Zambia’s success in boxing. “He fought like a true Zambian, each fight was as if it was his last. Mwale up to this day still remains our number one professional boxer who beat Zambian, African, Commonwealth and world boxing records. “We thank God Almighty for His kindness, love, forgiveness and mercy as Zambia and Africa celebrates Mwale’s life taken away 11 years ago,” he said. He said the current crop of male boxers should strive to beat Mwale’s record. “We have talented boxers but at times lack the fighting spirit. They should take a leaf from Mwale who, even after losing, still rose up and trained harder,” he said. Mwale’s widow, Astridah, said her late husband went out of his way to put Zambia on the world map because at times he would fight every month. “I would remember my late husband as our hero, a great son of the soil and the greatest boxer Zambia has ever produced. He sometimes fought twice in a month just to raise the bar in boxing. He was so passionate about boxing and predicted a successful boxing future for Zambia,” she said. She advised young boxers to instil discipline, hard work and passion in the sport. “Discipline is most important for every sportsman and woman. They need to realize that boxing is a sport where you cannot take anything for granted. The smallest margin of error alter your career and life. Put your heart into the sport which made my husband record success. “They should fight for perfection and have the will to win. Every boxer should start their career in amateur ranks as it is the nursery for professional boxing to become better champions in the future,” she said. Mwale had 53 fights, winning 44 and losing nine. Born in Kitwe on April 14, 1952, Mwale started his boxing career at Rhokana Amateur Boxing Club and first stepped in the ring aged 16. He later joined the Zambia Army-sponsored Green Buffaloes Boxing Club. In 1974, at the Commonwealth Games in New Zealand, Mwale outboxed his Scottish opponent Alexander ‘Cye’ Harrison to collect the light-middleweight gold medal on unanimous points decision. Mwale turned professional in April 1977 under Scorpio Promotions and fashioned a punch called the NPPP (Nuclear Power-Packed Punch). In 1990, he won the WBC International title against Ghanaian Ray Acquaye with an eighth round knockout in Lusaka. He however lost the belt in his first defence of the title to Virgil Hill of the United States in 1992 in Bismarck, North Dakota. He was African champion for over six years. Mwale hang up his gloves in 1994 but five years later, he suffered from poor co-ordination of the limbs and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.