Juniors go toe-to-toe at Philippi tourney

Luyolo Mguni throws a powerful left hook inches pass his opponent, Liviwe Mvula before using his feet to swerve back during a four-round bout hosted by the SA Boxing Federation at the Philippi Plaza on Saturday.

Inspired by world renowned boxers, who all grew up under similar impoverished conditions, the children did not let anything get in their way – not the cold weather or a lack of shoes – to get in the ring.

Featherweight boxing champ and provincial Boxing SA chairman Mickey Klaas, former super bantamweight knockout specialist Welile Nkosenkulu, former two-time IBF world super featherweight champion Mzonke Fana and renowned boxing ring announcer Shepherd Dyani were among the role-models they sought to emulate, to box their way out of poverty and in to stardom.

Fana was one of the referees on Saturday. He says the event was good, however, it could have been better. Due to the weather conditions, some children could not pitch on the day.

Fana says grassroots boxing reminds him of his earlier days in the ring.

“I think boxing is something that lives in me, I sleep, drink, talk, walk and live boxing. There is always that reminder when you’re watching grassroots and amateurs. All champions come from somewhere,” he says.

Fana says sport pays, crime doesn’t.

“We are thankful to the support shown by the children and the parents that support them to participate. For me, it’s not only about boxing, but sport as a whole is vital for any child,” he says.

Fana says they are gearing up to take a couple of boxers to the national amateur boxing federation tournament hosted by Boxing SA in Middelburg, Mpumalanga, next month.

Trainer at The Youth Boxing Club in Philippi, Zolani Yako, encouraged his nine boxers that participated and won two gold and seven silver medals to continue with the sport.

“My kids, most of them had a good performance. As a new club there was a lot of progress. To show that, all nine of them received medals. Now we just need to find a gym because if it’s not warm outside we cannot train,” he says.

Former light heavyweight champion and organiser of the tournament Jongi Kamko, says the future of boxing in the province is bright.

“The tournament was a great success, especially the bouts, they were all beautiful. The boxers and the coaches dared the weather,” he says.

Kamko says three weeks ago his boxers at The Box Academy in Makhaza won the team of the tournament in Milnerton and during the weekend’s competition they lived up to expectations.

“Ongeziwe Poni was the boxer of the tournament in Milnerton. We saw some beautiful boxer from her on Saturday. Unfortunately some of our boxers like Nqaba Dantile could not fight because they did not have an opponent on the day. Earlier this year Nqaba beat the SA champ in East London,” he says.

Founder and coach at 9 Sai Boxing Club in Town 2 Welsh Macibela, was the scorer during Saturday’s bouts. He says this tournament will inspire the boxers to continue boxing.

Four of Macibela’s boxers will be fighting in Mdantsane and East London this weekend and next month. Asiphe Mxoli from Strand, Ayabulela Mbukane from from Mfuleni, Nasiphi Mdlangazo from Harare and Mzukisi Mkhalane from Site C. Coach at Monwabisi Boxing Club in Kraaifontein, Monwabisi Nomyayi, says his four fighters were instrumental at the weekend’s event.

“Sport keeps the kids safe from a lot of stuff happening outside. Parents feel safe knowing their kid is at the gym. The first time they train I tell them when they reach the age of 18 they work not only for Kraaifontein but for their families and the rest of South Africa. They become breadwinners at home because most of them do not come from easy backgrounds. This sport is discipline,” he says.