By Bruce Mangala
In most of his interviews regarding some of boxing’s greatest moments, former world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson has often referred to Chisanda Mutti vs Leroy Murphy ‘double down’ as perhaps one of the game’s greatest event in history.
This is the fight that almost tipped the gambling tables of Las Vegas and threatened to reverse the fortunes of the greatest bets of the masters of the business.
Who would want to believe that Chisanda Mutti, a native of Matero, a sprawling township in Lusaka, would threaten history by making an attempt at upsetting a fight that world boxing pundits had predicted 10 – 4 to the favour of the Cruiserweight Champion Leroy Murphy, a native of Chicago in the United States.
Chisanda ‘Kent Green’ Mutti has his roots from the North Western Province of Zambia and was discovered from Matero gym in the 70s by Nigerian Boxing promoter and trainer Gibson Nwosu who settled in Zambia in the sixties.
Nwosu worked through a list of some of Zambia’s greatest boxing legends that included Lotti ‘Ba Jimmy’ Mwale famously known as ‘Gunduzani’, Charm ‘shuffle’ Chiteule, Patrick Mambwe, John Sichula, Julius Luipa, Mike Simwelu and a host of others, who he passed on to British trainer late George Francis.
On 19th October 1985, 5 days before the 21st anniversary of Zambia’s Independence from British colonial rule, Chisanda Mutti squared up with the World Cruiserweight Champion, American Leroy Murphy in Monte Carlo, Monaco.
The fight started with Murphy agressively attacking with hard body punches in an attempt to lure the Zambian to drop his guard of his chin, the most vulnerable point of any boxer, but Mutti stood his ground and responded with equal measure. Chisanda had a rugged, smoking style like that of of ‘smoking’ Joe Frazier. He could take a hard punch with a pinch of salt and still charge foward like a bull.
This seems to have stunned Leroy who clearly had expected Chisanda to buckle and cow down to championship superiority which the former enjoyed, but this ironically seems to have provoked the Matero ‘Kent Green’ as he charged back like a ‘matador de toros’ (Spanish bull fighter).
At this moment the American appeared to have changed his overall strategy and mission of Mutti as he allowed the Zambian challenger, the honour of attacking while he thoughtfully and tactfully retreated.
Chisanda Mutti welcomed the opportunity and in the process bloodied the Champ’s nose, and at this moment Murphy was clearly giving the Zambian some deserved respect and serious attention.
Up to the 11th round, the judges’ score cards were reporting an even match between the two pugilists as both boxers began to show signs of strain and fatigue but continued to throw hard punches that would have knocked down pillars.
The 12th round had both boxers’ faces puffed like they had been stung by bees, but they charged on like Roman gladiators as the Monaco affluent crowd cheered wildly.
It was towards the dying moments of the round that both boxers threw hard punches to their chins that sent the two simultaneously reeling to the canvass in a heap of heaving flesh that transmitted rippled vibrations to the entire ring.
The diminutive referee Larry Hazzard immediately reported into ‘double duty’ as he stood between the two warriors and furiously began to pump both his little hands in the air, to excute the double count.
As Hazzard reached 8th, Murphy slowly staggered up and by the 9th he was upright but barely standing.
The Zambian ‘Kent Green’ lay motionless to the floor as Larry Hazzard raised the victorious hand of Leroy Murphy.
Chisanda Mutti went on to fight Evander Hollyfield who was to become the World Heavyweight Champion. Mutti lost to the American via a technical knockout in the 5th round.
Kent Green also fought his compatriot Lottie Gunduzani Mwale in what many view as one of the toughest fights. One writer noted;
“It went the distance and though the more stylish and much fancied Lottie won on points, he went home knowing he had been in one hell of a fight”.
Leroy Murphy recalls in retirement, “I disrespected the Zambian and hoped he would yield early, but I learnt to respect every opponent no matter where he comes from, no matter his background. In Chisanda I never met any boxer quite his strength, his determination, his resolve and his courage. I salute my African, my Zambian brother forever”.
The last time this writer met Chisanda ‘Kent Green’ Mutti, was in the mid 90s, near Matero market as he walked towards Matero Police, nibbling at a cob of roasted maize.
As he walked covered in somewhat tattered clothes and torn slippers, one could clearly see the towering and imposing figure of a Champ who society has set aside in the dustbin of history, but history that still reigns supreme in Monaco and the boxing hall of fame in New York.
Though not medically confirmed, Chisanda in his last days in Matero/ Lilanda area exhibited symptoms of parkinson disease. His style of walking changed and his mentality appeared to have been affected by the two fights of Evander Holyfield and Leroy Murphy.
I wonder whether anyone can even find where Chisanda Mutti’s tomb is. If you walk through the length and breadth of Matero, you will find a little ‘Chibuku’ beer hall written in bold letters, ‘Kent Green’. In as far as this writer is concerned, that’s the only visible memorial ‘tomb’ of the Zambian pugilist.
In the image attached, Chisanda is in the right side shown here dominating against Murphy.
May the soul of the Champ rest in peace.