A dark cloud has befallen the Namibian sport fraternity following the sad passing of two prominent personalities in the shape of retired football referee-cum-Tigers Football Club long serving administrator Heinrich Mbumbu Ileka and former amateur boxer Allison Katupia Kauejao.
The pair lost a marathon battle against an assortment of illnesses at separate health establishments in Namibia’s commercial capital Windhoek earlier this week, aged 78 and 65 respectively. May their souls rest in power, collectively.
Though the deceased operated in different trades way apart from each other, they both left a long lasting legacy in the annals of the domestic sporting arena, notably the football and boxing disciplines. New Era Sport goes toe to toe and blow for blow, delving into the illustrious sporting journey of the departed icons.
Born Heinrich Ikela at Windhoek’s old location in 1942, Buti Mbumbu, as he was affectionately known in football circles, made his debut in competitive football at a very tender age, strutting his stuff for boyhood team Tigers Football Club’s second strings alongside the flamboyant Shikurumuna Hangula and many other colourful characters who have since all gone the way of all flesh.
However, with age catching up, the pocket-sized football crazy Mbumbu eventually hung up his tiny togs and turned his hand to refereeing, following in the footsteps of former Tigers teammate, the late Licias Coloured Kakololo. In the meantime, Mbumbu would double as treasurer for his beloved ‘Ingwe’, a position he occupied with distinction until Namibia gained her long overdue democracy in 1990. Buti Mbumbu went on to officiate high-profile matches, covering visiting professional teams from neigbouring South Africa. He was also amongst the first ever match officials to be incorporated in the new set-up during the historical amalgamation of organized inter-race football in apartheid South West Africa (SWA) in 1977.
However, the journey was not a bed of roses for the no-nonsense whistle man, as he sporadically escaped potential serious bodily harm at the itchy hands of unruly players on more than one occasion by the skin of his teeth. One particular scary incident that comes to mind is the hotly contested ill-fated division two knockout cup final match between Black Africa’s second strings and Hungry Lions at the old Katutura stadium in 1979.
Disgruntled players from the brave ‘Lions of Judah’, marshalled by bulky forward Abisai ‘Shabby’ Rukero, aggressively enveloped the pint-sized match official, baying for his blood. Nonetheless, the cool headed Mbumbu escaped unharmed from the intended onslaught to live another day.
Buti Mbumbu will go down in history as one of the finest and most honest unbiased match officials in the old dispensation of domestic football. He leaves behind his pretty wife Lena, who bore him five children – three sons, a pair of daughters and 13 grandchildren.
Ode to veteran mechanic-cum-boxer Allison Katupia Kauejao
A chip off the old block, the late Allison Katupia’s genes dictated that he would become a mean boxer of note, after all his uncle the beanpole Immanuel Hijaviposa Kauejao, old man of football greats the late Ben Kauejao, Malan and younger brother Mandla Kaizemi, was an equally phenomenal heavyweight amateur boxer during his heyday at Windhoek’s old location.
Kauejao senior ranked amongst the finest heavyweight leather traders in the business alongside the late pair of Eazy ‘Brown Bomber’ Tjahikika (Andrew Tjahikika’s grand old man) and Japhta Mbaoua Tjatjitua, as well as Simeon Mbuerendende ‘Kid Cassius’ Tjipura (Barry Rukoro’s old man).
Allison started trading blows at a very young age in the unfortunate era that had no weight restrictions that saw lightweight boxers confronting opponents twice their body size. However, it was not until the skewed apartheid laws were adjusted, when inhuman segregation laws in then South Africa’s remote-controlled apartheid South West Africa (SWA) were slightly relaxed in 1977, that athletes of colour were allowed to compete against their privileged white counterparts
Fitted with a lion heart, Katupia will be best remembered for his breathtaking fight against overwhelming crowd favourite Ernst ‘Buster Mathis’ Tjeriko, staged at the seams-bursting Katutura Community Hall in Windhoek. And though he lost the gruelling bout on points, the gap-toothed boxer certainly gifted his more celebrated opponent a decent run for his money, earning the respect and admiration of the neutral fan, including the doubting Thomases.
With subsequent decent results, aided by a significant number of convincing wins under his belt, his exploits in the boxing ring did however not go unnoticed. The fast emerging middleweight boxer was duly selected to represent his motherland at provincial level in neighbouring South Africa for the prestigious annual South African Amateur Boxing Union (SAABU) August Inter-Provincial Senior Championship at the Rosherville compound in Cleveland, Johannesburg in June 1980.
Back in the day, competition was very tough and the country was loaded with an avalanche of highly gifted boxers in the mould of Ben Awaseb, Simon ‘The Hawk’ Katuru, Joseph ‘Joe Archer’ Shikongo, Ernst ‘Buster Mathis’ Tjeriko, Frederick Mokhatu, Cowboy Angula, George Mukuaahima, Hiskia Swartz, Joe Murangi, Fanuel Tjingaete, Kelly Ngixulifwa, Issaskar Kamukuyu, Nocks Bezuidenhout, Erastus Kambauruma, Mannetjies Smit, James Pekaha, Quick Kaperu and the dangerous Jan Leff, amongst others.
Apart from trading leather as a fearless hard punching middleweight boxer, Katupia was a much sought-after roadside motor vehicle mechanic, specializing in the German manufactured Volkswagen cars. He mastered the trade in fixing faulty car engines from renowned Volkswagen car dealers Zimmermann Garage alongside fellow proteges Oscar ‘Silver Fox’ Mengo and Willy ‘Garrincha’ Katire.
The latter pair were equally noted ‘footies’ in their own right, plying their trade with Katutura glamour football club African Stars and the star-studded Central Invitational Eleven. Upon retirement from competitive boxing, Allison was not entirely lost to the sport that dragged him across the Orange river.
He knuckled down to some serious business, taking aspiring boxers through the ropes under the banner of the revered Fight Forever Boxing Club stable. The departed Allison will be ushered to his final resting place Okaheke vilage, holed up in the modest Otjituuo reserve, on Sunday. May his soul rest easy.