’Fix boxing now before it is too late’

The former boxer Mzonke “The Rose of Khayelitsha” Fana has one plea to the powers that be – please revive boxing by building fully equipped gyms in the townships.

Former boxer Mzonke “The Rose of Khayelitsha” Fana has issued a stern warning about the state of boxing in the townships.

The careers of promising boxers are under threat due to the absence of funding, big promoters, television and newspaper coverage, equipped boxing gyms, corrupt politicians and high levels of crime.

In a province that has produced world champions, the former two-time IBF junior lightweight belt holder fears the sport of boxing is fading in the townships.

When Vukani visited the former hard-hitter, we found “The Rose of Khayelitsha” still going strong.

Fana, 46, is on a mission to help young aspiring boxers but says facilities in the townships have been neglected.

He said by now Khayelitsha and Mitchell’s Plain should have had equipped boxing gyms to produce more Whiteboys and Fanas.

He however, said things are as appalling as they were when he retired four years ago.

“It is quite sad to speak about the state of boxing in the Western Cape. It breaks my heart to look at what boxing has become but no one cares. There is no change and the sport is slowly dying. I trained in community halls or sometimes in the garage at home. Many boxers are training in their backyards, sport complexes, school halls where if there is an event they cannot train. They train in their own car garages. That is an appalling situation and disappointing thing in a province that has had champions. After me we have not produced an international champion let alone a national one. Mzuvukile “Old Bones” Magwaca was promising but he was shot,” exclaimed Fana.

The accomplished former ring veteran feels that the province has talented fighters who need to be groomed in a better environment.

But he also blamed former boxers for not being involved in the sport. He said people need to look at the Whiteboys in Mitchell’s Plain whose father Leslie was instrumental in training his sons and grandsons.

He said Leslie trained Derrick (former SA bantamweight champ), Chris (former SA super-featherweight kingpin), Bramley, Ashley and Trevor. “This tells you that we have people who are dedicated to this sport. I still believe that we have more talent but is it neglected. The boxing world needs facilities in the townships. The killing of school sports is another problem in the townships. We need to revive the school sport. It helped us a lot during our time. But again former boxers have neglected the sport. If you look at Gauteng, Eastern Cape and other provinces, former boxers are hands on,” he said.

The Rose said throughout his illustrious career he has never had a chance to train in a world class facility in the township.

However, he said he and others were opening up the way for up-and-coming boxers.

“We have dug the way for the future boxers. That should have opened the eyes of many politicians, to build a boxing facility. Instead we are faced with corrupt people who do not care about sport,” he said.

Fana is currently helping any boxer who needs his service at the HardNoxBoxFit gym.

“It would be criminal for me to sit and fold arms while there are still boxers who need help,” he said.

“Yes there is no improvement but that does not mean we need to fold arms while children are dying through crime activities. I believe we can save our children from crime. We should not sit back and applaud crime. We need to tackle it through many activities. These children lack something to do. I am not trying to defend their evil ways but all I am saying is let us do something.”

Fana is hopeful that things will change.

“Slowly but surely, things will be okay. I know that there are people who are sweating blood to revive the most loved sport. One day, we will conquer. There will be a day when we will look back and say boxing is back on its knees. You cannot knock it out at all. We shall rise,” he said with a smile.

Boxing lovers will wait to see if Fana and his HardNoxBoxFit Gym produce a national and international championship in any division.

Mzonke is still strong even though he has left the boxing ring more than four years ago.
The Rose is still commanding a big following in the townships and in the country. Here he is with his fans who identified themselves as Noxolo and Bulelwa