8 Dec 2013

Sports stars pay tribute to Mandela

1:20 pm on 8 December 2013

The sporting world is paying tribute to Nelson Mandela.

Heavyweight boxing legend Muhammad Ali says Mr Mandela taught the world forgiveness on a grand scale.

Ali says he was a man whose heart, soul and spirit could not be contained or restrained by racial and economic injustices, metal bars or the burden of hate and revenge.

World Football President Sep Blatter called Mr Mandela one of the world's greatest humanists who believed sport could unite people in peace and friendship.

Remembering the 1995 World Cup final, Jonah Lomu said it felt like the pressure was all on New Zealand as South Africa had Nelson Mandela on their side.

South African Rugby Union president Oregon Hoskins says Mandela used the tournament as an instrument to promote nation building.

Hoskins says Mandela's decision to retain the Springbok as the team's emblem was an act of reconciliation and generosity of spirit which no one could have expected.

South African golfer Ernie Els says Mandela was an iconic leader who changed his country for the better.

World golf number one Tiger Woods says meeting Mandela was one of the most inspiring times in his life.

Football superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham sent tributes, while Brazilian legend Pele declared Mandela a hero in the fight for world peace.

Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton posted a picture of himself with Mandela on his Facebook page.