Mandela. The Undefeated Man in the Arena

By Andrew Ivey | Communication

Feb 19
Nelson Mandela speech

Francois Pienaar receives the Webb Ellis trophy in 1995

Hollywood’s big on symbolism; often using symbolism instead of accuracy. “Invictus”, the new Clint Eastwood film takes full advantage of symbolism…and stretches accuracy. The title, “Invictus” is drawn from the eponymous nineteenth century poem by William Henley; a poem that Nelson Mandela had with him whilst in captivity on Robben Island. True and accurate.

In the film, Nelson Mandela gives the poem to the Springboks rugby captain, Francois Pienaar, before his World Cup Final match with New Zealand in 1995. Great symbolism. Not so accurate, however.

In reality President Mandela gave the Springboks team some equally inspiring words. A 1910 speech by Theodore Roosevelt, “the Man in the Arena.” In essence, President Mandela chose a speech with far more relevance for the team about to face the All Blacks in the Ellis Park Stadium. A great choice of words.


About the Author

The Principal Trainer at training business Time to Market. Based in Oxford, I run presentation and public speaking training courses, coaching sessions and seminars throughout the UK. Andrew Ivey on Google+

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