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Mandela Boxing Championship Belt Stolen in S.Africa

FILE — Sugar Ray Leonard, U.S.A., holds the middleweight championship belt above his head after defeating Marvin Hagler in a split decision to win the title in Las Vegas, Nev., Photo taken 4.6.1987.

A world boxing championship belt that American boxing legend Leonard gave to the former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, was stolen from a museum in Soweto.

The stolen championship belt was one of many artifacts inside the Nelson Mandela National Museum, a major tourist attraction for local and international travelers.

According to police, the belt was stolen when thieves broke into the museum, popularly referred to as Mandela House, and the theft was reported to police on July 1.

The belt was given to Mandela by American boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard during one of his visits to South Africa.

Mandela, a former amateur boxer, revered the belt and it was prominently displayed in the museum before it was stolen.

The museum is one of the top attractions on Vilakazi Street, the only street in the world to claim two Nobel laureates as former residents. Mandela and the late anti-apartheid stalwart Archbishop Desmond Tutu both lived on the street.

No suspects have been arrested and authorities have appealed for any information related to the theft, police spokeswoman Dimakatso Sello said.