Wednesday, February 28, 2024

American boxer who broke hearts of Zambian boxing fans dies aged 59

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The late Matthew Saad Muhammad
The late Matthew Saad Muhammad

Former American Light Heavyweight Champion Matthew Saad Muhammad passed away over the weekend at the age of 59. Saad Muhammad, the orphan who became world champion is rembered by most Zambian boxing fans for having inflicted the first defeat on Zambia’s rising star Lottie Mwale when they met in the US for the WBC title belt.

Lottie Mwale, arguably one of the best boxers to come out of Zambia, had conquered Africa and Europe and many Zambians fully believed that he was going to conquer America and become World Champion, only to wake up on the morning of November 29 1980 to the news that their boxing idol had failed to conquer the world.

Matthew Saad Muhammad known for his bruising style whose rags-to-riches-to-rags life story began in abandonment and nearly ended in homelessness, died on Sunday in Philadelphia, where for many years he had been a local hero.

The cause of death was uncertain, but he had received a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, said Kevin J. Roberts, a spokesman for Resources for Human Development, a nonprofit social services group for which Saad Muhammad worked as an advocate for the homeless.

In the late 1970s, early 1980s, Saad was making between $250,000 and $500,000 for some fights, but no one was looking out for his finances. He had bought a beautiful home in Elkins Park and it was decorated by one of the most expensive interior designers in the Philadelphia area. He did not own it for long. He had a beautiful wife—she later left him.

Years later, he told his friends that those closest to him in boxing had borrowed money from him and never paid him back.

He was so broke he sold his championship belts, robes, trophies, everything he had earned in boxing, just to pay his bills. He lived in the basement of a friend’s home for a brief time around 1999.

Through all his down times, Matthew remained friendly and outgoing and he never lost his movie-star looks.

Below is the fight with Lottie Mwale. Where were you and what was that day like as a Zambian boxing fan. Share your memories

31 COMMENTS

  1. Ah imwe ba LT, ine my heart is still broken to this day over that fight. I don’t even want to watch the fight becuase it brings some of my worst memories as a kid. I ileterly adored Gundunzani and no one could beat him and the only boxer to fill independence stadium. Anyway those were the days and the Kwacha was strong

    • I remember our hero Lottie Mwale, accompanied by late N .Mundia, the sports minister then and a group of drum beating Nyau dancers walking to the ring. H didn’t go past this one

    • This what we call news ba LT. Not always about …
      Anyway, now I can see that there used to be a Zambia. Lottie looked good, but if we compared to our today boxers, so depressing mwe.

    • Still Remember this fight at around 4am to 5am. We lost as we hoped we will go back and win. Yes our hearts may have been broken but not shattered like the economy

  2. Sob sob sob.

    Remembering those days when we used to wake up in the small hours of the morning to watch – LOTTIE GUNDUZANI KAINGO MWAAAAAALEEEEEEEEE!!!!

    Not these riff raffs we have today.

    MHSRIEP

  3. It was a dark day for Zambia in the early Hrs of that morning.After all the joy that he had brought to the Zambians with an unbeaten record and as he was just about to break even on the World stage ,we tumbled….

  4. The Nyau dancers forgot to pack the drums…you should have seen the shock when Ngunduza (MHSRIP) was flowed…
    Okay now they can be sparring partners…

  5. Those were the real boxers,not galagata who looks like wrestler,Thanx LT for the video i was 2 years old by then

  6. Lottie that thug use to take young girls by “P” ukuPinga pamabeya and rape them. It was fun watching him get clobbered.

    • Lottie was a great great boxer…..making a shot at WBC light heavy title not a minor achievement. And in my own analysis of the fight, Lottie was far much a better boxer. I rest case …MHSRIP

  7. He (Lottie) was caught by a sucker punch. He fought a good fight up until he left himself open to that uppercut of a sucker punch.

  8. Glad to watch this.I was 5 years by then.I grew up hearing his name and that of Godfrey Chitalu for football.

    • The Matthew Saad Muhammad`s rags to riches and then riches to rags story makes interesting reading though.A trap a lot professional sports men and women falls into because of not having good managers to manage their finances.Names like Elijah Litana, Frank bruno,Paul Gascoigne,George Best and Wawa Chongo springs to my mind.Men who tasted the big monies just to fall back into poverty.

  9. He (Lottie) was caught by a sücker punch. He fought a good fight up until he left himself open to that uppercut of a sücker punch.

  10. The problem with Lottie was he relied too much on mbanje. Most Zambian boxers and even soccer players use it before a fight. In America he couldn’t smoke before the fight. Had the fight taken place in Lusaka he could have won it.

  11. plz pipo brief me wen was that fight took place cos i cant remember i dont know if i was born by then

  12. Good Show LT, Those are the good old days.
    MTSRIP, Both good boxers. I was just preparing to go ZNS after FORM Exams.
    Watched it our neghbours Veranda on 14″ black and White ITT TV, The whole neighbourhood was there about twenty of us.

    BP

  13. LT, was it 1980 or 1981? I am growing old these days but i thought 1979 was the year he beat Gary Summerhays for the Commonwealth title and 1980 for the Bagayuko Sunkalo at Independence Stadium for the African title & the Saad Muhammad in Atlantic City in 1981. I stand to be corrected.

  14. Yes, it was painful to see our champ then got knocked out. Few of us believed he would be beaten at that time but if you can see, Mwale was skilled but his body was not at the same level as American boxers of that time. If only he was as physically built as Saad was he could have floored the American early. For you new guys, boxing in Zambia was high in the 70s through the 80s just like football was. Chisanda Mutti, CharmChiteule, Francis and Albert Munsakabala (brothers), Webby Mhango etc

  15. All is good history for the young. Where are the new boxers, tennis champions, basketball, track. Despite the loss the man earned himself thousands of dollars to buy a house and drive nice cars in Lusaka. May both Lottie and Saad Muhamad rest in peace. Thank you for the entertainment.

  16. Lottie fought well. You could see he was a talented boxer. He let himself open for a split second and that’s all Saad Muhammed needed. I don’t think Saad was even leading on points. Rest in peace both boxers.

  17. The fight only lasted four rounds.I watched it.Saad Muhammad was too big and strong for Lottie.His game plan too was poor.Any way Lottie got his biggest pay check and when he came back he bought himself a Range Rover and all the girls were his especially at Kabwata.MTSRIP.

  18. Matthew Saad Muhammad.was a great fighter.but his taste in women.Stunk!!!!!.that Michelle.was known for being a GOLDDIGGER…….she help to bring him down…..to bad he didn’t find some one who really loved him…not just the house and cars…..so sad.

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