BOXING: White-Collar boxers take to the ring

A group of young amateur boxers get to test their strength in a grueling competition filled with bloody noses and technical knockouts.  

On Saturday, April 13, 2024, a white-collar boxing event was held at Lightweights Gym in Northfield, Johannesburg, giving promising and inexperienced boxers a platform to showcase their skills in front of an audience.  

Boxers squaring off in intense fight. Photo: Siyanda Mthethwa.

A group of local boxers came together to create a competition that allowed beginner boxers, who had not competed in official fights, to go up against one another. Ten fights were contested throughout the evening, each one consisting of three, two-minute rounds.

It was a high-adrenaline competition with a couple of fights resulting in a Technical Knock-Out (TKO) which is when a referee stops the match due to one of the fighters being unable to continue fighting or defending themselves. 

Lusanda Komanisi, former IBO World Champion and multiple-title holder, was one of the organizers of the prestigious event. When speaking about the importance of it, he said: “We wanted to put fun in it and make people be able to watch boxing and make them scream as much as they want to.”  

He added that the event made him proud because of the positive shift away from watching professional fighting as it was able “to put amateurs [in the ring] and give them a chance to shine.” 

One of the favourites of the night was Wits graduate, Nota Jiyane, who sparred against Third-year Wits student, Kgothatso Swandle, and won the duel. Jiyane, who was in high spirits following his victory reflected “The fight went to plan, nothing out of the ordinary, you know. I just stuck to the plan that the coaches gave me, it went well”. 

Jiyane says the sport is personal for him, “I used to be bullied back when I was a kid, and this was me stepping out of my comfort zone. So, I’m not going to stop now.” 

He also believes small platforms like this are where untapped talent lies, “we can be known as the hotspot for one of the best fighters in the world and I believe that we can do that just by doing these little events,”.  

Tshepiso Fambe, a spectator, praised the event for bringing people together and allowing people to “showcase their talent”.  

Nevertheless, the event was a success, and potential fighters can look forward to the next event which will be hosted in July, giving them ample time to prepare. 

Johannesburg Boxing Team gets ready to rumble  

The upcoming Gauteng championship has boxers feeling motivated with their eyes set on the gold. 

In preparation for the Gauteng championship taking place on May 26, boxers from different clubs around Johannesburg are perfecting their uppercuts and jabs.  

The Hugenote Boxing Club, where the team practices on Saturday’s, looks like a typical boxing gym, fitted with heavy punching bags hanging from the ceiling, a boxing ring in the centre, and a trophy stand with medals, pictures and certificates.  

Team coach, Duncan Morris used to be an amateur boxer but had to quit boxing for health reasons. After a seven-year hiatus, Morris is now using his boxing knowledge and abilities to train others.  

Training sessions are led by Morris and two other coaches, Boetie Lourens and Jennifer Matibi. Each coach has a specific programme for the day, which they execute throughout the training session. These training programmes include, heavy bag workouts, jumping rope, sit-ups, sparring, sprinter crunches, and a run around the block. 

“I don’t just observe the boxers during training, I train alongside them. This allows me to lead by example and demonstrate the level of commitment required in training,” Morris said.  

The championship will be at the Transnet Engineering Boxing Academy in Pretoria and participants will include boxers from the three Gauteng metropolitan cities namely, Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg, and Tshwane. 

In an interview with Wits Vuvuzela, a boxer from the Johannesburg Boxing team Reggie Mogashoa (27) said that he uses techniques like mental training and meditation to help him stay calm and focused during training. 

Morris said that their approach is to also help boxers get mentally/psychologically prepared for the championship by creating a safe space for them to talk about their personal issues. 

“Mental strength is crucial in boxing, and physical strength alone is not enough. Lacking mental toughness can make it challenging for a boxer to perform well in a fight,” Morris said. 

One of the boxers, Hoosein Isaacs, who is a two-time South African boxing champion told Wits Vuvuzela that he wants to do his best in training and become the champion once again “to regain his status.”  

Johan Prinsloo from Transnet Engineering Boxing Academy said that the championship will follow the international boxing rules and “the winner will walk away with a gold medal and will be recognised as a South African champion”.  

The championship’s first round is scheduled between May 26 and May 28, while the second round is scheduled for June.  

FEATURED IMAGE: The Johannesburg boxing team in training mode as they prepare for the Gauteng championship. Photo: Nonkululeko Mncube


Shortage of million dollar babies

Wits’ female boxers are dropping out of the sport because of the lack of opponents at tournaments and the gruelling preparatory training necessary for bouts that are not “in the bag”.

Bakholise Mabuyane, chairperson of the Wits Boxing Club and vice chairperson of University Sports South Africa, has been boxing since 2008 but has not had one fight.

“Every time I decide to go for a tournament, I don’t get anyone in my division,” she says.

Mabuyane is a light welterweight and is the only female boxer in the gym who fights in that division. She says her boxing has improved over the years – despite having zero fights on her card – because she spars with the guys.

“It’s quite disappointing training for a tournament and not getting a fight and even when you host a tournament you sort of don’t look forward to it because you know there’s zero chance of getting an opponent.”

Tando Melapi, who revived the club as a Witsie in 1998, is helping the senior boxers train for the Johannesburg Amateur Boxing Organisation tournament at Wits on August 27.

“It’s a universal phenomenon that female boxing is not so popular and relatively new. It’s seen as rough and for tomboys,” says Melapi.

He says, in the past, coaches who wanted their female boxers to gain ring experience would find women in a division close to their boxer’s and the boxers had to lose or gain weight to allow for a fight in the same division.

“What helped us before at Wits is that we had many females who wanted to fight and two coaches which meant we could not ignore female boxing and had to be innovative.”

The stable currently does not have a formal coach and Mabuyane says there are far fewer competitive female boxers than when she started.

“It feels like the fact that females are competing in the sport hasn’t been appreciated. People aren’t supporting it and society doesn’t encourage female boxing,” she says.