Zambia has produced fine sports-persons over the last 50 years. But there are some whose performance was exceptional. CHAPADONGO LUNGU looks at those he rates as the six top-notch performers.
LOTTIE MWALE – At Leopards Hill Memorial Park in Lusaka lie the remains of one of Zambiaâ€™s finest sportspersons, a man whose name reached far and wide and one whose â€œNuclear Power Packed Punchâ€ could fill Lusakaâ€™s Independence Stadium to the rafters.
Lottie was a typical boxer, one whose career took him places around the globe, becoming Commonwealth and All-Africa heavyweight champion.
Before turning professional, Lottie, originally from Kitwe, demonstrated his prowess when he became Commonwealth champion in 1974 in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Lottie was so dominant that it was difficult for him to find challengers locally as those who stepped up into the ring were brutally sent to the canvas, never to challenge him again.
He defeated the strongest from the tip of Atlas Mountain to the foot of Drakensburg Mountains and from the shores of the Indian Ocean to those of the Atlantic Ocean. He also won several awards locally and internationally.
On the local scene, the only one who came closest was Chisanda Mutti who was also defeated â€“ twice.
He only became vulnerable when Parkinson disease set in, losing twice to youngster Mike Chilambe in 1994, an embarrassment that forced him to hang up his gloves.
SATWANT SINGH –
PERHAPS no single Zambian is as decorated as the record-holding eight-time African Motor Rally champion.
Satwant did just about everything there was do, winning continental and national championships during a period when he was indomitable. From 1969 to 2000 when he called time on his career after winning his last African title in Rwanda, Singh towered all across the continent, from the Schalk Berger in South Africa to Charles Muhangi in Uganda.
When he initially ventured into the African race, he was unsuccessful but once he got in his stride, he was simply unbeatable, reigning supreme in 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 2000.
He has won the Zambia International rally a record 14 times and has a plethora of local awards.
ZAMBIA INTERNATIONAL RALLY VICTORIES
2000 – 1st overall, Subaru Impreza, M. Goma
1998 – 1st overall
1997 – 1st overall, Subaru Impreza, S.Thatthi
1996 – 1st overall, Hyundai Elantra, Jim Redmond
1995 – 1st overall, Hyundai Accent, E. Gangat
1994 – 1st overall, VW Golf Gti, L.A. Singh
1993 – 2nd overall, Toyota Celica, E. Gangat
1992 – 2nd overall, VW Golf Gti, M. Verjee
1991 – 1st overall, VW Golf Gti, S. Thatthi
1989 – 1st overall, VW Golf Gti, S. Thatthi
1988 – 2nd overall, Opel Manta, Lee Ann Singh
1987 – 2nd overall, Opel Manta, Thee Soin
1986 – 1st overall, Opel Manta, Chris Jennings
1985 – 1st overall, Opel Manta, Guy Hall
1975 – 1st overall, Datsun 1600, Dave Haworth
1974 – 1st overall, Datsun 1600, John Mitchell
1970 2nd overall, Datsun 1600SSS, John Mitchell
1969 3rd overall, Peugeot 404, John Mitchell
Satwant may be retired but history recognises him as the finest rally driver Africa has ever produced and a top-notch sportsperson who was national champion in 1972, 1975, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1998.
AMON SIMUTOWE – He is an embodiment of confidence and extraordinary brainpower, combining academics and chess with equal measure of success.
Amon is one of the most amazing talents Zambia has ever seen, gaining national recognition as early as 12 years and winning the national championship a year later.
That was but just an indication of what would become of him in a world of chess where one move could take hours or a split second. Amon would soon conquer Africa at junior and senior levels before getting second slots at both Olympiads and World Championships.
He later embarked on a journey to grandmaster (the highest honour in chess) and, using his personal resources to travel around the globe, achieved it with distinction in 2007.
He became the only grandmaster in sun-Saharan Africa and only the third black grandmaster in the history of the sport once dominated by Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Kapov, both Russians. He achieved this phenomenal goal without a coach!
What makes Simutowe one of the six greatest Zambian sportsmen is how he manages to combine sports with education. He has a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Finance from the University of Texas and a Master of Science in Economics for Development from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.
KALUSHA BWALYA – Nobody has the guile, heart and magnetic influence that Kalusha Bwalya has had during his football playing career and beyond.
His playing career that spanned 22 years is about the longest in Zambian football and his well-executed goals confirm that Kalusha was born way ahead of his time.
When the proverbial chips were down following the 1993 Gabon disaster, Kalusha emerged to give Zambians hope to believe even more and honour the departed colleagues.
That was years after he had already come out top scorer with five goals at the 1988 Olympics and had moved to Belgium to start his professional career.
He is also the only Zambian to have scored a total of 11 goals at the Africa Cup of Nations, at one edition â€“ 1996 – emerging as the top scorer with five goals.
Kalusha would later play his professional football in Asia and America before getting on the score-sheet at 42, becoming the oldest player to score for the national team.
He caps it off with being the only player in southern Africa to be African-Footballer-of-the-Year and the only man in Africaâ€™s history to attend the Africa Cup as player, coach, football association president and Confederation of African Football executive committee member.
He is the Alpha and Omega of Zambian football, with a plethora of decorations locally and internationally.
GODFREY CHITALU â€“ HE rates as Zambiaâ€™s greatest goal-scorer having netted 107 goals in one season, a record that still begs for recognition from CAF and FIFA.
Any defender who encountered Chitalu narrates the great pace and finishing power the former Kabwe Warriorsâ€™ international possessed.
Reminded about Chitalu, the man nicknamed â€œUcarâ€, national team colleague Jani Simulambo broke down and remarked: â€œThere is no doubt he was the greatest ever.â€ Little wonder Railway Grounds has been named after him.
SAMUEL MATETE â€“ Matete is Zambiaâ€™s only track and field gold medal winner at global level, grabbing it at the 1991 World Championships in 400m hurdles.
He was also a silver medal winner at the 1996 Atlanta Georgia Olympics, among many other medals that the Kitwe-based athlete boasts.
1988 World Junior Championships Sudbury, CanadaÂ Â Â 5th position
1991 World Championships Tokyo, JapanÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1st position
1992 World Cup Havana, CubaÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1st position
1993 World Championships Stuttgart, GermanyÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â 2nd position
1994 Commonwealth Games Victoria, CanadaÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1st position
1994 Goodwill Games St. Petersburg, RussiaÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 2nd position
1994 World Cup London, United KingdomÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1st position
1995 World Championships, Gothenburg, SwedenÂ Â Â Â Â Â 2nd position
1996 Summer Olympics Atlanta, United StatesÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â 2nd position
1997 World Championships Athens, GreeceÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 5th position
1998 IAAF Grand Prix Final Fukuoka, JapanÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1st position
1998 African Championships, Dakar, SenegalÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1st position
1998 World Cup Johannesburg, South AfricaÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 1st position