By David Zulu
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 ‘double falls’ in history. A double down is a simultaneous knock down to the canvass by both pugilists.
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 and make an attempt at upsetting a fight that world boxing pundits had predicted 10 – 4, to American Leroy Murphy, the World Cruiserweight Champion, and native of Chicago in the US.
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 who had fast shuffling legs like Muhammad Ali, danced like a butterfly and stung like a bee. Others were Patrick Mambwe, John Sichula, Mike Simwelu and and many more. After identifying these boxers, the Nigerian boxing promotion genius passed them on to British trainer George Francis.
On 19th October 1985, 5 days before the 21st anniversary of Zambia’s Independence from British 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 firmly stood his charge, and responded with lighting punches to the World Champion’s face.
This seems to have stunned Leroy who clearly had expected Chisanda to buckle early to Championship superiority, which the former enjoyed. But ironically this appears to have provoked the Matero ‘Kent Green’ as he charged back like a bull. At this moment the American appeared to have changed his overall strategy and view of Mutti. He subsequently allowed Chisanda the honour of attacking, while he tactfully retreated while shielding his head.
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 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 concrete pillars.
The 12th round had both boxers’ faces puffed like they had been stung by an angry hive of bees but they charged on, as the Monaco crowd cheered wildly. It was towards the dying moments of the round that both boxers simultaneously threw punches to each other’s chin resulting in the two reeling to the canvass, in a heap of heaving flesh.
The diminutive referee Larry Hazzard immediately reported into double duty, as he furiously pumped both his little hands in the air to excute the double count.As Hazzard reached 8th, Murphy slowly staggered up, and by 9th he was upright but barely standing.
The Zambian ‘Kent Green’ lay motionless to the floor as Larry Hazzard raised the hand of Leroy Murphy. The American won by Technical Knockout aided by a double down which he beat to the count of 9th.
Chisanda Mutti went on to fight Evander Hollyfield who was to become the World Heavyweight Champion. Mutti lost again to the American via a technical knockout in the 5th round.
Leroy Murphy recalls in retirement, “I initially disrespected the Zambian and hoped he would yield early, but I learnt to respect every opponent no matter where they come from, no matter their background. In Chisanda I never met any boxer quite his strength, his determination, his resolve and his courage. I salute 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 on a cob of roasted maize.
He strutted casually seemingly lost in his on world, dressed in a tattered T shirt that hang loosely on his big torso and wearing torn (patapata) slippers, one could clearly see the towering and imposing figure of a Champ, quite like the movie character ‘Mandingo’.This is the man 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. In Lusaka he is a forgotten hero who only exists in the twilight zone, between fantasy and reality. Chisanda Mutti was a real story of a real champ, a Zambian hero.
Chisanda ‘Kent Green’ Mutti is buried somewhere in Chingwere cemetery most probably in an un marked grave which by now may have become a mere mound.
The only ‘statue’ in his memory I know of is a small ‘Chibuku’ tavern I discovered in Lusaka’s George Township whose whitewashed wall is boldly written, ‘Kent Green’, in green.
I was watching CNN a few months
ago of a funeral of a black Vietnam Veteran who had no family to bury him. When a small Texan town heard the news through social media, the whole Town, black and white, old and young, turned up to bury their hero, a man none of them even knew.
The Air force provided him an Honour Guard and a Fly past. His flag draped coffin was lowered into the grave accompanied by a gun salute and an aerial boom of passing Jets. Society must learn to look after its heroes. This American community from a small Town did just that.
In the image attached, Chisanda is in the right side shown here dominating against Murphy.
May the soul of the Champ rest in peace.
Picture, courtesy of Zambezi Express
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