Amateur boxing gets a lift

Cassim Hassan, the first Philip Michael Gunnell floating trophy winner, flanked by Zola Koti, Jeremy Bean and his coaches in Site C.

Philanthropist Phillip Gunnel’s support of the Future Champs project took a new direction with the sponsorship of the Philip Michael Gunnell floating trophy, which was held at the bustling Site C Taxi Rank on Saturday.

The final was between two talented boxers, Cassim Hassan from Future Champs and Eza Makhi from Haleluya boxing clubs. It was a spectacle to behold as both young fighters showed pure talent.

It was Hassan who prevailed in the judges scorecards for a well deserved victory.

“The concept is to develop a monthly achievement award model where youth participating in our programme will be recognised for their efforts, achievement and resilience on an on-going basis,” said Future Champs founder Jeremy “Nguni” Bean.

He said Future Champs uses boxing and the boxing club environment as both a tool and space to support children from under resourced urban communities in Philippi.

“The gym becomes a physical refuge and the coaches become social fathers supporting children through their formative years, using boxing training framed within life skills development and mentorship,” he said.

The criteria for awarding the monthly award is intentionally broad, and will not only be bestowed on achievements inside the boxing ring, but also to youth that have shown effort, growth and improvement across the full range of activities and tasks. The monthly frequency is set to drive a healthy competitive spirit with the gym.

“The ritual of prize giving is a fantastic way to recognize and provide encouragement to our youth, we welcome this initiative and the unwavering support from Mr Gunnel. This initiative honours both him as our patron and creates an internal reward and recognition system that will encourage our youth,” Bean added.

Cassim Hassan in red exchanging blows with Eza Makhi at the Kuwait Taxi Rank in Site C on Saturday.

“The trophy initiative is about creating traditions and structure, we are confident that it will add social value to the club and provide recognition to these incredible children who are so resilient and positive despite their circumstances. I am committed to support the work of Future Champs and the youth under their care. It is an honour to be part of their journey and we look to scale up efforts in 2023 and beyond so that we can increase our impact with the youth,” said Gunnel.

He said a friend told him about Future Champs in 2020 and after seeing the positive impact that the boxing gym has on the local children, he felt honoured to be able to participate.

“The staff, the other sponsors and the children at Future champs deserve all the credit and support for establishing and maintaining a safe venue for health and boxing,” he said.

“Again, I am grateful and honoured to be able to give the gym my support. The idea or intention behind the trophy is a regular reward to inspire and motivate the kids to persevere towards achieving goals. The last thing I would like to add, if anyone or any business is considering sponsorship or an act of charity, strongly consider supporting Future Champs, this gym makes a real difference where it is needed the most, ” Gunnel said.

Zola Koti, a renowned local trainer, said these tournaments will uplift boxing at grassroots level and urged sponsors to join in.

“Today we saw great talent on display and I am sure these boxers can put the Western Cape in a global pugilistic map,” said Koti.

He said the public must expect more tournaments of this nature.