In 1957 Kwame Nkrumah led the nation of Ghana to independence as the country’s first Prime Minister. He famously stated: “I am not African because I was born in Africa but because Africa was born in me.”
Nkrumah was an outspoken advocate for the liberation and union of Africa as a whole. While his movement was unsuccessful, ending with a military coup in 1966, many share the perspective that, when you are born in Africa, you a part of an unbounded culture and community.
In contrast to Europe, Asia or the Americas, these sentiments are noticeably embodied within the people of Africa and often amplified by the sporting heroes of African nations. At the 2019 IMMAF – WMMAA World Championships, 22-year-old amateur MMA standout, Eliezer Kubanza looks to following in their footsteps.
Hailing from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kubanza is Africa’s highest ranked amateur MMA contender and two-time IMMAF Africa Open gold medalist, winning the continental title in 2017 and again in 2019. He occupies 8th place in the senior middleweight rankings and 29th in the pound-for-pound standings featuring over 750 senior level men and women.
13 African nations are currently represented as members of IMMAF – WMMAA with South Africa leading as the continent’s most decorated national team and serving as regular hosts of the Africa Open Championships since 2017. South Africa has won three gold medals at the IMMAF World Championships, but not since 2016 when the last to do so was men’s lightweight challenger, “Relentless” Roedie Roets.
Alongside Team South Africa, athletes from Algeria, Cameroon, Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Guinea, Mauritius, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, the Seychelles and Tunisia are set to compete on the world’s premier and most inclusive platform for amateur MMA.
Looking ahead to the 2019 IMMAF – WMMAA World Championships, taking place in Bahrain from 11-16 November, Africa’s top medal prospect is not only committed to stepping on the world championships podium as the first Congolese athlete to make it, but to claim the gold medal and pave the way for future generations of African hopefuls in the sport of MMA.
“We are trying to make our continent proud and bring it up like other professionals from Africa are doing, to be number-one and make all Africa proud,” Kubanza told IMMAF.org.
With a current amateur record of 7-2, Kubanza has established himself as a dangerous knockout artist with great athletic potential. Holding a 100% KO ratio in his winning performances, Kubanza has forced 6 knockout stoppages to date alongside a single triangle choke submission.
In addition to Kubanza, the Democratic Republic of Congo MMA Federation aims to dispatch a quartet of representatives incuding 2019 Africa Open bronze medalist, Chadrack Lomboto (men’s lightweight), Joslin Nkuni (men’s featherweight) and Kasese Muntamba (light-heavyweight).
“Training is going 100% good and I’m better than before,” Kubanza added, “my ground game and BJJ is getting better as well, I think I will be 100% ready for this World Championships .”
By IMMAF.org lead writer, photographer: Jorden Curran