Some lesser-known facts about the acclaimed South African leader.

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Nelson Mandela was a world figure, and much of his life played out on the public stage. But even giants of history have aspects of their lives that aren't as widely known. USA TODAY Network looks at elements of Mandela's biography that you may not be aware of:

MORE: Life of Nelson Mandela

1. He wasn't born Nelson Mandela but rather Rolihlahla Mandela in Mvezo, a village on the eastern cape of South Africa, in 1918.

2. As a young boy, he lived in Qunu, a village so small that there were no roads. There were only footpaths, and families lived in huts.

3. He was baptized in the United Methodist Church and given the name Nelson by a teacher.

4. His father, a counselor to the tribal chief, died when he was 9. Mandela was then adopted by the tribal chief.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: South Africans on Mandela

5. He fled to Johannesburg to avoid a marriage arranged by the tribal regent.

6. Sports were a part of his life even during his time as a political prisoner at Robben Island. There, he helped to form a very limited sports program in the isolation section. He and other prisoners became fans of the prison soccer teams that would play weekly matches in the general section of the prison.

SPORTS: Mandela believed sports connected S. Africans

QUOTES: Famous Mandela Quotes

7. Invictus, the 2009 film starring Morgan Freeman as Mandela, is the name of a William Ernest Henley poem that provided Mandela inspiration during his 27 years in prison.

MOVIES: The role the poem, Invictus, played in Mandela's life

8. Mandela was known to excel in boxing.

9. In 2005, Mandela announced his son, Makgatho Mandela, had died of AIDS.

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