DR Congo remembers Muhammad Ali | Africa | DW | 09.06.2016
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DR Congo remembers Muhammad Ali

Congolese fans of Muhammad Ali will commemorate his legendary 'Rumble in the jungle' which was held in the capital of what was then Zaire. A series of boxing matches are set to take place on the day of his funeral.

It has been 42 years since Muhammad Ali met his rival George Foreman, in a boxing match at the Tata Raphael Football stadium in Kinshasa. The memories from the historic match are still fresh in the minds of those who watched it.

60-year-old, Jiress Tshibanda Wata was only 18 when the fight dubbed the 'match of the century' happened. 42 years later, he is the director of the boxing club 'La Tete Haute de Muhammad Ali' or the 'high head of Muhammad Ali'. The club trains both girls and boys and uses the same stadium for their practice.

Muhammad Ali boxing club

Muhammad Ali has inspired many boxers in DR Congo

Modestine Munga, a 22-year-old female boxer is one of the members of the club. In 2013, she won a silver medal at an international match in Cameroon. Although she hadn't been born when the match happened, Muhammad Ali is one of her role models. "I'm like his granddaughter. I know so much about him from our coaches. I know he is the greatest boxer in the world and that is my dream - to be as great as he was."

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Muhammad Ali's legacy in the Congo

Coeur de Lion Tshibanda who is the coach of the national boxing team in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) said that although Ali inspired many of the country's boxers, "boxing in Congo will not fade out with the death of Muhammad Ali." Tshibanda met Ali before the match in 1974. He was only 10 years old at the time.

"The Ministry of Sports doesn't give much importance to boxing, but we are asking them to build a Muhammad Ali monument," he said. Coeur de Lion thinks this will be good for tourism.

Reactions to Ali's death

Many Africans reacted to the news of Ali's death through comments on social media. DW users on Facebook noted his sportsmanship and great prowess in the ring. "I will remember him as a black man who set a record as a heavy weight champion, in the history of the world. His speed in the ring was one of a kind," wrote a user by the name of Ayoub Ayoub. Others pointed out his commitment to equality. "As a boxer he was not racist and he defended minority rights," wrote Sombi Mtemi from Tanzania.

Boxer Muhammad Ali im historischen Schlagabtausch mit George Foreman

The World Heavyweight Championship between Ali (right) and Foreman (left) was a source of pride for Congolese fans

In Kinshasa several boxing matches have been organized at the Tata Raphael stadium on Friday as an honorary send-off for the world champion. Ali died of a respiratory illness at the age of 74. For several year he had battled with Parkinson's disease. He will be buried in his hometown Louisville, Kentucky, in the United States.

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