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Burying hatchet

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The country’s feuding boxing bodies, Malawi Boxing Association (Maba) and Malawi Professional Boxing Control Board (MPBCB), buried their differences yesterday as the boxing fraternity mourned the death of former boxer John Masamba, who died on Tuesday after his house caught fire.

MPBCB President, Lonzoe ‘Defector’ Zimba, who travelled all the way from Mchinji District to Chilomoni Township in Blantyre— where Masamba’s burial ceremony took place— and Maba President, Justice Katika, put aside their rivalry and led scores of mourners in paying tribute to Masamba as his remains were laid to rest at Andasani Cemetery in the township.

Maba and MPBCB have been fighting over control of the game for years, resulting in divisions among boxers who are forced to pledge their allegiance to one of the two.

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Zimba said they had lost a trainer who was behind the success of many boxers, including African Boxing Union (ABU) super lightweight champion, Anisha Bashir, Ellen Simwaka, Ruth Chisale and John’s younger brother, Wilson.

“We are at pains with this shocking death. John had an impressive career, spanning from amateur to the professional category. He never dumped the sport at any time but concentrated on training others who went on to make it big,” he said.

On his part, Katika said Maba incorporated late Masamba in an international coaching course which a South African expert facilitated.

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“This shows that we rated Masamba highly and respected him. We felt he could play a role in nurturing youngsters. We are really devastated by his death. May his soul rest in peace,” he said.

Wilson spoke on behalf of the family and said they had lost a pillar that inspired them to do well in boxing.

“We do not know how we will fill the void he has left. He was always there for us when we needed him in everything. We have lost our leader,” he said.

Contrary to reports that Masamba died in a grass-thatched house, Times found that he was living in a house roofed with iron sheets.

Masamba, who fought at various levels, both within and outside the country, was a son to legendary boxer, late Schoolboy ‘Shasha’ Masamba.

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