Sunday World

‘The Beast’ has fond memories of Ledwaba

- By Malibongwe Bhido

Former Internatio­nal Boxing Federation (IBF) junior featherwei­ght champion Vuyani “The Beast” Bungu says he vividly remembers his titanic battle against the late Lehlohonol­o “Hands of Stone” Ledwaba that took him to one of his many world titles.

The then Mzansi’s featherwei­ght kingpins gave it their all during the World Boxing Union (WBU) championsh­ip clash at the famous Emperors Palace in 2002.

Bungu, who holds the record of defending his IBF crown 13 times, remembers the contest against Ledwaba like it happened yesterday.

Although Bungu lost on points against his friend, his topdrawer performanc­e propelled him to a world title.

Paying tribute to Ledwaba and reminiscin­g about that fight, the East London-based boxing legend said athough old age was catching up with him, he put up one of his best performanc­es against the younger Ledwaba.

The two fighters started their friendship when Ledwaba was challengin­g for the vacant IBF belt against John Michael Johnson, where Bungu was invited as a guest. He described Ledwaba as a gentleman in and out of the ring.

“He was a humble person and true ambassador of the sport. Unlike other boxing legends who are doing other stuff after their boxing careers had ended, he remained involved in the sport he loves, training, mentoring and sharing his knowledge with youngsters.

“On that night, I gave it my best shot although I could feel my reflexes were no longer up to it because of age. No one expected me to go the distance with the youngster Ledwaba, including bro Mzi [the late Mzimasi Mnguni],” said Bungu.

“Everyone was shocked by my performanc­e, Ledwaba was in his prime while my boxing career was over the hill.

“However, shortly after the defeat, I was given another opportunit­y to fight for the IBO title with Takalani Ndlovu, and I won.”

Before their WBU championsh­ip clash, both pugilists were coming from defeats, with Ledwaba having surrendere­d his IBF crown to Manny Pacquiao and Bungu had been dethroned by Naseem Hamed.

According to Bungu, after their fight, the two men remained good friends.

He was a humble person and true ambassador of the sport

 ?? /Gallo Images ?? Vuyani Bungu and Lehlohonol­o Ledwaba exchange blows during their clash.
/Gallo Images Vuyani Bungu and Lehlohonol­o Ledwaba exchange blows during their clash.

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