At the height of his glorious boxing career Nika “The Sting” Kumalo was a beater of men but today his focus is on training women and girls the art of self-defence.
Kumalo last week launched a boxing gym sponsored by the Hollywood Foundation, close to KCT Mall in Khayelitsha.
He said the idea was to use boxing to deter gender-based violence while instilling confidence in women and girls.
“We conduct self-defence workshops on Saturdays and make our trainees become active change-makers because they talk to others and men about ways of lessening conflicts in relationship,” said Kumalo.
Hollywood Foundation CSI manager Zikhona Buzani said the moment she laid eyes on Kumalo’s proposal she “felt my heart warm up”.
“Personally I was not affected by gender-based violence but many women and young children suffer daily and I felt duty-bound to motivate further his programme,” said Buzani.
The company bought Kumalo a container, punching bags and other training equipment, and will further assist where needed, she said.
The container will serve as a call centre and phone lines will be installed soon .
“We are going offer therapy to those affected by gender-based violence and it will be a safe space for the community. We will then assist those people who are raped or beaten, to open cases at the nearest police station,” said Kumalo.
Ward councillor Ryder Mkutswana said GBV was a another pandemic and that everyone had to get involved in ending it.
“I will do all in my power to ensure that this gym gets the support it needs and that we help Kumalo to spread his message ,” said Mkutswana.
He said every day he was confronted by people who were being abused by spouses, but did not report these incidents to the police.
“As I was coming here, two women approached me to report a rape case to me but were unwilling to talk to the police because the perpetrator is a breadwinner. What nonsense is that?” he asked.
Speaking on behalf of Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa who could not attend the launch, Vusumuzi Mushwana a director in the department, said the minister also supported Kumalo’s initiative and encouraged him not to give up.
“Kumalo works with our department and are impressed with what he plans to do here and the Minister Mthethwa sent me here because values programmes like these,” said Mushwana.
Kumalo said as part of GBV programmes they will have motivational speakers, and train them in yoga and boxing. The gym opens from Monday to Friday.
Gospel singer Nosipho Daniels who was the programme director told a chilling story of her own abuse by an ex-husband. She advised women to leave toxic relationships.
“I stayed for two years after the initial abuse started. I left with broken ribs. At one stage he tried stabbing me with a knife. I was lucky to come out alive. Women are forced by the society to stay with abusive men in the hope that they will change,” she said.