“Boxing is egalitarian,” wrote Mandela in his best-selling autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. “In the ring, rank, age, colour and wealth are irrelevant.”
Mandela started boxing as a student at Fort Hare, and later trained at the Donaldson Orlando Community Centre in Soweto in the 1950s.
A heavyweight, Mandela wrote that he enjoyed the science of the sport more than taking punches. “It was a way of losing myself in something that was not the Struggle,” he wrote.
His son Tembi, then in his early teens, was also a keen boxer and enjoyed training with his dad,
“When he saw me loafing he would say: ‘Mr Mandela, you are wasting our time this evening.’”
Madiba wrote that he and the older boxers enjoyed the jibes immensely.