• Bunce on Olympics

Big heads at the boxing

Steve Bunce July 30, 2012
Meji Mwamba enters the ExCel Arena as something of an unknown quantity © PA Photos
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It is essential in boxing to have confidence and to be a big head.

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The Congo's super-heavyweight contender, which is stretching the truth, is called Meji Mwamba and he has the biggest head in the history of amateur boxing and that is official.

When the finest fighters in Africa gathered in Casablanca for their Olympic qualifier there was talk of the big man with the big head from the Congo. He was a mystery package at 6.5 and about 18 stone and there were complimentary rumours about his prowess in the ring.

However, a bit of comedy denied the fight fans a sample of his talents because there was not a head guard big enough to fit over Meji's enormous bonce. This could be the last Olympics where head guards are worn but that was no good to poor old Meji in Casablanca. The boy was in tears, his Olympic dream at an end.

"People tried to help me, they tried to make me a hat," said Meji through a translator. Sadly, all attempts at making a legal head guard failed and the only one that fit was made of metal. The dream was over before it had started.

The story did not, obviously, end there and word spread to the men that make the random decisions that always deliver a crank tale at each and every Olympics. The Games need a tragi-comic performer, a swimmer in a national vest that needs armbands and swims at a pace that would set a new Yorkshire under-tens record in the 100 metres freestyle.

Well, it seems that Meji is our man.

He has been awarded a place under the tripartite commission system and gets in the ring for the first time on Wednesday. He has, so I'm told by people at the gym, been made a head guard. However, I'm also told that he is not very good, which is a bit of problem because he has been drawn against the world champion and the top seed at the Olympics, Magomed Medzhidov, in his first and last fight.

"I will do my country proud," Meji said. He has also lost his coach - and I mean lost him - and is likely to call on the services of the Angolan coach, with possible assistance from one of the GB men. Meji's tale resembles one from the last century, when old-school Corinthians, who just happened to be in an Olympic city at the right time, signed up and had a go. He will have a go.

Something similar did happen in Atlanta in the super-heavyweight division when Wladimir Klitschko blasted his way to the final only to come face-to-face with his roly-poly nemesis Paea Wolfgramm. What a fight that was as the moveable feast and man-mountain from the Pacific came so close to defeating the last Olympic champion reared inside the Soviet system.

Meji and his new hat certainly have a hard act to follow.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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Steve Bunce has been ringside in Las Vegas over 50 times, he has been at five Olympics and has been writing about boxing for over 25 years for a variety of national newspapers in Britain, including four which folded! It is possible that his face and voice have appeared on over 60 channels worldwide in a variety of languages - his first novel The Fixer was published in 2010 to no acclaim; amazingly it has been shortlisted for Sports Book of the Year.