Boxing South Africa joins the multitudes of South Africans and the entire global village as we extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Mama Winfred Madikizela Mandela. As it is now common knowledge, Mama Winnie’s sacred spirit was elevated to the celestial palace on 2 April 2018 at the triumphant age of 81!
Mama Winnie’s departure has left us in a dichotomy of paradox! As we mourn her departure with melancholy, we equally look back with jubilation at the sparkling chronicle of her life and its decorated highlights. We are inspired by her virtues of wisdom, resilience, fearlessness, selflessness, love for fellow mankind and continuous identification with the downtrodden and marginalised members of our society.
The story of her life depicts a tale of a matriarch on whom the crown was forced against own will, let alone preparation, when her husband was brutally snatched away from her and her family by the then repressive regime. This unjust act of history forced her not only to become a mother and father to her own children but also a mother to the entire oppressed majority who saw in her a leader, a mother and a beacon of hope.
She opened up her home and availed it as a rear base for the anti-apartheid foot soldiers as well as ordinary rank and file activists in the struggle for a non racial, non sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa. Despite the countless number of times that she was targeted, persecuted, terrorised and victimised, she still remained among her people in Soweto which continued to be her residence until her very last heartbeat.
Even during the democratic dispensation her home remained a fortress for the disenfranchised and a holy ground for the pilgrims. For us in boxing community, we will always remember the 24 January 2007 when her home hosted the first ever female boxer to headline a boxing tournament in South Africa, the former WBC and IBF super middleweight world champion, Ms Laila Ali, the daughter of boxing legend, Muhamed Ali.
This historical development, cultivated the fertile ground from which our seed of ‘Women in Boxing’ programme germinated and continues to grow even today. We owe it to Mama Winnie and her unrelenting advocacy for a girl child to take up her rightful place as an equal alongside male counterparts that today Boxing South Africa pride itself with more than 100 female licensees across the value chain of boxing.
It came as no surprise that on 30 January 2008 when he was interviewed at Emperors Palace, Johannesburg where he was a guest at one of our local boxing tournaments, the former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, Mike Tyson said this about Mama Winnie, ‘You can’t be a human being and not admire Winnie Mandela- because of what she has had to overcome in this life. She is a highly spirited woman!’
Mama Winnie was indeed a highly spirited woman! We wish her family, her friends and the entire nation strength in this time of sorrow. On account of all that she has done for us as a nation and most importantly as the boxing community, we will observe a moment of silence in every tournament until Mama Winnie is ultimately laid to rest on 14 April 2018 at Orlando Stadium.
We will also be approaching the family when the burial has passed and the mourning period is over to request permission to name one of our Women in Boxing sub-programs after Mama Winifred Madikizela-Mandela. As we step into our women’s month in August 2018 and all other subsequent years, we will always do so inspired he name of this gallant female matriarch, Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and other heroines like Mama Albertina Sisulu whom we will also be celebrating 100 years this year.
Robala ka kgotso Mama Winnie! Go thee well mother of the nation.