Toe-to-toe at district championships

Khayelitshas Keith Mpala, left and Anathi Ndaleni exchange blows during their under-52kg bantamweight bout, at Saturdays Cape Town Metro Open Boxing Organisations district junior and youth championships, in Philippi, at the weekend.

picture: Fuad Esack

The winners in the various age and weight divisions will now compete at the Western Cape championships, in Langa, next month.

The day-long tournament, which saw a number of bouts being fought, was hosted by Manyano Boxing Club.

And, Manyano trainer Thembelani “Terror” Lingani said he was convinced the team that was selected after that event is going to do the City proud at Langa.

“Our boxers are going to compete against fighters from other districts like Overberg, Karoo, Eden, Cape Winelands and the West Coast, and that means competition is going to be even tougher. But, having watched each of last week’s bouts, I can safely say our boxers did well. They did well enough to earn their places in the team that is going to the provincials. They showed exceptional talent,” he said.

Lingani said in order for the sport to grow, everyone including government and the private sector, needed to weigh in and show their support.

“Boxing is one of those neglected sports codes and sometimes we feel like it’s neglected because it is a ‘poor man’s sport’.

“Talent is there but, without proper support in terms of resources, that talent is more likely to go nowhere.”

Meanwhile, Nkanini’s African Youth Boxing Club will be well represented in the provincial champs and their charismatic trainer Thembani “Pressure Cooker” Gqeku urged the fans to look out for one of his star fighters – Siphe “Fire Blows” Boyana.

Boyana also fought in last week’s Metro Open Boxing Organisation championships and came back with a gold medal in the 47kg division.

And, Gqeku said there was still more to come from the young buck from Makhaza.

“He is one of the best in the junior division (47kg to 48kg). His speed is one of his biggest strengths and his opponents struggled to cope with that.

He has 87 fights so far and lost only 10 of those. His opponents have been warned, he’s a gem in the making,” said Gqeku.

Gqeku also noted that Siphe, 15, has been in the nationals two times but didn’t get to fight.

“We are not giving up, we want him to qualify for the nationals again, and this is a good chance to do that,” said Gqeku.

Ncubeko Jacob is another fighter from Gqeku’s stable who is going to do battle in the provincials. He fights in the 52 to 53kg division and his trainer expects nothing less than gold from him too.

“He has potential. He fought in last week’s competition and came back with the silver after losing in the final. We identified his mistakes, and are now busy working on those mistakes. I know he is going to come back strongly,” said Gqeku.

Located deep in the heart of Nkanini in Khayelitsha, Gqeku’s gym is home to about 20 young and exciting fighters. And, Gqeku said he was convinced that his tiny gym, which is made up of corrugated iron, will produce world beaters in the near future.