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Madiba "rolled with the punches"

The significance of sport to South Africans runs deep, largely due to the influence of late former president Nelson Mandela, who in his autobiography _Long Walk To Freedom _spoke of it being a way to connect with almost anyone.

Mandela's warden Christon Brand told the Telegraph in 2009 "He knew that it (rugby) was something the wardens (on Robben Island) would always talk about and make a personal relationship possible and he set about learning everything he could about the game, all the gossip and bits of pieces."

"That's how we started talking. It was a way of connecting in a world when you are not meant to connect. He would never claim to be any sort of expert - he was a boxing man - but he came to know more than enough to get by."

Mandela also stuck to a strict boxing routine while in prison to keep fit.

After his release in 1994, Madiba made numerous appearances at sporting events, which coined the term "Madiba magic" and arguably gave South Africans a sense of "winning influence" at each game he went to watch.

The power of the "magic" was exemplified when South Africa beat New Zealand with an iconic extra-time drop goal to win the Rugby World Cup in 1995.

South Africa scored two goals within two minutes of the restart and went on to record their first ever win over an opponent who had previously held dominance over them.

Across the world, sport fans celebrate the life Nelson Mandela who "rolled with the punches" and fought for our freedom.

Madiba's sporting "magic" was just one part of his extraordinary life and one of the reasons he will be remembered as a great man, celebrated by people worldwide.

Eyewitness News caught up with Beki Dube, who project managed a painting of the 40 metre tall mural of Nelson Mandela the boxer in the Maboneng Precinct.

Picture taken on August 1, 2013

_Shanghai based 34 year-old Belgian artist Phil Akashi posing in front of his portrait of South African peace icon and former boxer Nelson Mandela, which he forged by pounding the wall 27,000 times with a boxing glove which bore the Chinese character for "freedom", in Shanghai. Mandela, who's passing earlier this month was marked in South Africa by an outpouring of grief, with thousands attending his funeral service in his home town of Qunu in the Eastern Cape. _Picture: AFP.

Well-wishers from the Gauteng Boxing Veterans Association gathered outside the Mediclinic Heart Hospital to pay tribute to former South African President Nelson Mandela on July 10, 2013 in Pretoria. Picture: AFP.

Mandela arrives at the ring side to watch Laila Ali, boxing champion and daughter of boxing legend Muhammad Ali', fighting 03 February 2007, Guyanan boxer Gwendolyn O' Neill (R) during the world championship fight at Emperor's palace in Johannesburg, South Africa. Picture: AFP.

Mandela (C) poses with former heavyweight boxing champions Michael Spinks (L) and Joe Frazier (R) at his official residence in Pretoria 06 December 1997. The boxers were visiting South Africa at the President's invitation. Picture: AFP.

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