Pictured above: In 2017 Eliezer Kubanza (left) was the first athlete to represent the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the IMMAF World Championships. By IMMAF.org lead writer, Jorden Curran Representing the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Eliezer Kubanza returns to defend his welterweight Africa Open title this month, at the 2018 Africa Open Championships, and this time, he’s not alone. Kubanza made history for his country last year, as the pioneering first athlete to compete under the DRC flag on the international IMMAF platform. As the nation’s sole representative at the 2017 Africa Open, accompanied his corner team: Ruffin Kalasa and Baygon Bombomba, Kubanza stormed his way to a gold medal, submitting South Africa’s Sheldon Victor with a first round triangle choke, before clinching a third round TKO stoppage over Russian Ramazan Gitinov in the tournament final. 2018 will see the biggest Africa Open Championships to date in Johannesburg, South Africa. In order to retain the -175lb welterweight crown, Kubanza must triumph in the 8-man amateur tournament that also includes the likes of Bahrain’s boxing specialist and recent Sambo World Championships medalist, Abbas Khan, plus Australia’s Cody Barnwell who earned a bronze medal at the 2017 IMMAF World Championships. The Democratic Republic of Congo MMA Federation (DRCMMAF) continues to make history and evolve the country’s presence in international IMMAF competition. Five additional athletes will make their way to Johannesburg, and like the trailblazing Kubanza who first paved the way, each will be determined to make a stylish impact in their international IMMAF debut. The DRC national team for the 2018 IMMAF Africa Open Championships includes: Men’s Featherweight: Claude Kepay Men’s Featherweight: Chadrack Lomboto Welterweight: Eliezer Kubanza (c) Middleweight: Ngeisse Ngeisse Light-Heavyweight: Romeo Katompa Light-Heavyweight: Kasese Muntamba Coaches: Phinas Mputu Jean Luc Kazadi Rhandy Lubadikadio Kununu The 2018 IMMAF Africa Open Championships take place at the Brakpan Sports Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 24 to 26 May. For more tournament and team information visit MyNextMatch.com.