CAPE TOWN – All that Dalcha Lungiambula wants for Christmas is to be with his family.
An understandable and heart-warming request, considering that they’re more than 3 000km away, deep in the heart of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Due to political reasons, the fighter has not been home since 2009 after touring with his judo team to South Africa and deciding to stay here in search of a better life.
The closest he gets to spending time with his parents is over the phone. It’s a sad reality.
Until the day he is reunited with his family, retaining his Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC) light-heavyweight title could be a very small consolation in the meantime.
It’s Africa versus Europe as Lungiambula, more affectionately known as “Champion” Dalcha is set defend his title against England’s Stuart “He-Man” Austin at EFC 65 in Carnival City, Johannesburg, tonight.
Dalcha says he is extra driven for his fight against the “He-Man” because according to Dalcha – and many other African fighters I have spoken to before: “There is a perception that African sportsmen and women, and competition in general here is not good. The world underestimates Africa.”
He-Man is a world-renowned comic super-hero characterised by his super-human strength.
One is inclined to think that Austin got the nickname because of his 1.88m-tall frame, 190cm reach and his knockout power
“His ‘He-Man’ nickname is more because of the way his hair looks when he is in training. So there’s no intimation on his strength because I am the one who has the power,” responds Dalcha, who fights for Team Champion in Cape Town.
Many EFC fans will be au fait with Dalcha’s incredible power and refined judo skills.
Dalcha usually enjoyed getting close to his opponent utilising his tree-log-like arms and legs to immobilise or subdue them. And his 50 percent take-down statistics on his overall skills breakdowns is a reflection of that.
But he has worked immensely on his stand-up artillery of late.
Who can forget when he punched former lightweight title-holder Gideon Drotschie into verbal submission before laying down an overhand from hell on Frenchman Alan Baudot, that would have even shaken-up “He-Man’s” comic-book nemesis “Skeletor”.
“That is not going to happen with me,” said Austin that same night at EFC 61 where the birth of tonight’s title fight took place.
“I wasn’t impressed with Dalcha’s performance, he was on the ropes. To be honest, I thought he was close to getting KO’d himself. He got hurt and swung with his eyes closed,” said the Englishman, who overcame Elvis Moyo via unanimous decision in a heavyweight bout in the build-up to Dalcha’s title defence against Baudot.
“I see holes in Dalcha’s game, he is obviously dangerous and powerful, but his skill set is limited,” Austin told Independent Media this week.
Austin, a smooth-talking and calculated assassin representing the famed Team Titan and Fight Zone based in London, holds multiple British and International judo medals, but he would quickly tell you that he does not favour any technique because he is “not a child”.
The man who boasts an impressive 12-3 win and loss record famously predicted how he would beat Moyo just one day before their fight, and his strategic brilliance ultimately paid off.
But will his predictions work for him this time around against a man who is fighting for the pride of Africa and so much more?
Prelim Card (starts at 5.30pm)
Sindile Manengela vs Regis Muyambo (Featherweight)
Sibusiso Mdoko vs Pierre Botha (Featherweight)
Luke Michael vs Rodrique Kena (Catchweight)
Faeez Jacobs vs Oumpie Sebeko (Bantamweight)
Francois Cundari vs Serge Kasanda (Lightweight)
Guy Mongambi vs Wayde Kerspuy (Flyweight)
Main Card (starts at 9pm; live on SABC 3)
Champion Dalcha vs Stuart Austin (Light Heavyweight Championship)
Boyd Allen vs Calum Murrie (Featherweight)
Deon Bruning vs Gavin Hughes (Lightweight)
Bokang Masunyane vs Magno Alves (Flyweight)
Elvis Moyo vs Nico Yamdjie (Heavyweight)@juliankiewietz