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.
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 Thompson, 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, Patrick Mambwe, John Sichula, Mike Simwelu and a host of others, who he passed on to British trainer 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.
This seems to have stunned Leroy who clearly had expected Chisanda to buckle to Championship superiority which the former enjoyed, but nay this seems 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, as he allowed Chisanda the honour of attacking while he tactfully retreated.
Chisanda Mutti welcomed the opportunity and in the process bloodied the Champ’s nose, and at this momement 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 wildly throw hard punches that would have knocked down pillars.
The 12th round had both boxers’ faces puffed but they charged on, as the Monaco crowd cheered wildly. It was towards the dying monents of the round that both boxers simultaneously threw punches to each other’s chin that sent the two reeling to the canvass in a heap of heaving flesh.
The diminutive referee Larry Hazzard immediately reported into the 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 disrespected the Zambian and hoped he would yield early, but I learnt to respect every opponent no matter where they came 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 on 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, quite like the movie character ‘Mandingo’. This is the man society had set aside in the dustbin of history, but history that still reigns supreme in Monaco and the boxing hall of fame in New York, but alas not in Lusaka.
Chisanda ‘Kent Green’ Mutti is buried somewhere in Chingwere cemetery most probably in an un marked grave.
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’.
I was watching CNN a few days 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.