Abuja – Sports enthusiasts in Abuja have urged youths to emulate the spirit of sportsmanship as exhibited by the former South African President, Nelson Mandela, for forgiving those who jailed him for 27 years.
Mandela, who marked his 95th birthday on Thursday, was also an accomplished boxer in his youthful years, apart from being a politician and a freedom fighter, who fought to end the oppressive apartheid regime in South Africa.
Mohammed Alim Musa, the Director of Sports, FCT Sports Council, on Thursday urged all youths aspiring to leave legacies to emulate the discipline imbibed by Mandela from sports and his in spirit of sportsmanship in handling his years of incarceration.
Mohammed in Abuja said that the sports world would like to remember Mandela for his contributions to boxing as he competed in the heavyweight class.
“He indeed, played a vital role in ensuring the success of the World Cup by South Africa, which remained a reference point.’’
He urged everyone, especially the youths to learn from the life and times of Mandela.
The President, Nigeria Boxing Coaches Association, David Amade, urged the youth to emulate Mandela, the sportsman by engaging in sporting activities rather than waste away their lives by peddling drugs.
“Sports apart from helping one to live a healthy lifestyle are indeed short-cuts to wealth.
“It is unfortunate that he (Mandela) is celebrating his birthday in the hospital, we in the boxing world wish him a quick recovery,’’ Amade said.
The Head Coach, FCT Boxing Association, Mr Benjamin Daniel, noted that Mandela was a true sportsman in every sense of the word, which accounted for the long healthy life he has enjoyed.
“Even in his small prison cell on the Roben Island, Mandela maintained a strict daily physical fitness regimen, which enabled him to survive the lengthy captivity for 27 years, under the worst of circumstances.
“He is a lover of sports and that is why he is still alive today,’’ he said.
Coach Daniel also urged the youths to shun every form of violence and rather embrace peace, stressing that boxing as was not a violent sport, contrary to public impression in certain quarters.
According to him, during his days as a boxer, Mandela enjoyed the science of boxing rather than its violence.
“He was intrigued by how one moved one’s body to protect oneself, how one used a strategy both to attack and retreat, how one paced oneself over a match.
“ We must learn to show love and respect for one another no matter our situation. In the ring, rank, age, colour and wealth are irrelevant,’’ he said.
Mandela spent 27 of his 95 years at the Ruben Island prison in the fight to end the obnoxious apartheid regime, which for many years resisted black majority rule.
However, the ailing statesman has been battling a recurring lung infection at a hospital in Pretoria Hospital. He was born on July 18, 1918. (NAN)