Kibomango

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This is the incredible story of Kibomango, the Congolese national boxing champion.
He is a former child soldier who marched 2,000 miles to Kinshasa with the forces of Laurent-Desiré Kabila to unseat dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997. He lost his left eye there, but later became the Congolese boxing champion. His defeated opponent challenged him to an immediate rematch – Kibomango knocked him out so comprehensively in the second bout his challenger subsequently died.

Now a poor mechanic in Goma, Kibomango has struggled – despite his fame – due to the lack of funds in professional boxing in the DRC. Rather than bemoaning his lot, he has turned to helping other former child soldiers, many of whom become homeless street children when they leave the bush.
Through boxing, Kibomango aims to instil in them a sense of discipline, ambition and self-worth.

Most recently, he has become the target of corrupt army officials upset at his work for rival transportation companies, and was even locked up in a military tribunal for three days in March, leading to riots by his supporters in Goma.

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Credits

Photographer: Francesca Tosarelli