By Ron Jackson
There are only two South Africans, referee and judge Stanley Christodoulou, and former WBA and IBF junior lightweight champion Brian Mitchell in the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York. However, there is no doubt that the former IBF junior featherweight champion Vuyani Bungu should be there, as well. He defended his belt 13 times, which is more than any other South African, including the aforenamed ring great Mitchell.
Talking about another South African who should be in the Hall of Fame, it should be Rodney Berman, who promoted his first show on August 29, 1977, when Charlie Weir knocked out Bushy Bester at Wembley Ice Rink in Johannesburg. Rodney has received numerous awards for his contribution to boxing and promoted more than 2,000 fights. Being inducted into the IBHOF is long overdue.
Among the world champions he has promoted are Welcome Ncita, Brian Mitchell, Vuyani Bungu, Mbulelo Botile, Phillip Holiday, Jacob Matlala, Hawk Makepula, Zolani Petelo, Lindi Memani, Jacob Mofokeng, Corrie Sanders, Cassius Baloyi, Thulani “Sugarboy” Malinga, Lehlohonolo Ledwaba, Harry Simon (Namibia), Sebastiaan Rothmann, Dingaan Thobela, Jan Bergman, Phillip Ndou, Silence Mabuza, Mhikiza Myekeni, Mzukisi Sikali, Zolani Marali, Thomas Mashaba, Isaac Hlatshwayo, Malcolm Klassen, Nkosinathi Joyi, Takalani Ndlovu, Zolile Mbityi, Tommy Oosthuizen, Hekkie Budler, Gideon Buthelezi, and Tshifhiwa Munyai.
Bungu beat the highly-rated American Kennedy McKinney an Olympic gold medallist, for the IBF junior-featherweight belt. They met at the Carousel Casino at Hammanskraal, near Pretoria, on 20 August 1994. The American, rated as one of the best fighters in the world, pound-for-pound, was comprehensively outpointed by the unheralded Bungu, who produced one of the finest performances in a world-title fight by a South African.
Bungu would go on to make 13 successful defenses of the IBF belt against some of the best junior featherweights in the world.