‘IBF title will stay in Eastern Cape’

2015-03-15 15:00

Zolani Tete says he would like to take the Eastern Cape back to its glory days of being a haven for Inter­­national Boxing Federation (IBF) champions.

The 27-year-old boxer from Mdantsane, East London, is currently the country’s only fighter who holds a prestigious IBF title.

The IBF championship is widely regarded as one of the most legitimate in the world. Tete won the then vacant super flyweight crown in Japan in July last year by beating Teiru Kinoshita on points. He has been forced to defend away from home because of the television blackout imposed by the SABC.

Last Friday, he made an impressive title defence by knocking out Paul Butler in the eighth round at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England.

South Africa has so far produced 13 IBF title holders, seven of whom come from the Eastern Cape.

Tete, who is the country’s sole IBF kingpin, is brimming with confidence and is ready to keep his championship belt firmly around his waist.

Tete said: “Being the only remaining IBF title holder in the country, and in the boxing-mad province that previously produced many champions from this governing body, puts pressure on one’s shoulders.”

He is trained by his father, Zolile, and Phumzile Matyhila, a former South African and World Boxing Federation Intercontinental junior flyweight champion.

“I should just keep on defending my crown successfully.

“The idea is to restore the pride of my province and the country as a whole.”

Tete said he had learnt a lot from his homeboys Welcome Ncita and Vuyani Bungu, the country’s first two fighters to hold IBF crowns.

Ncita became the country’s first IBF champion after beating Fabrice Bénichou in Tel Aviv, Israel, in March 1990.

He made seven successful defences.

Bungu won the crown in 1994 after beating American Kennedy McKinney at the Carousel Casino in North West.

He defended his title successfully a record 13 times.

“Both are now boxing trainers who always make an effort by sharing their skills with me whenever they visit our gym.

“This is quite encouraging,” Tete said.

“I owe it to the two gentlemen to make as many successful defences as possible to keep the province and the country on the world map.”

Commenting on his latest victory, Tete, who stretched his professional ring record to 19 wins and three losses in 22 fights, said he had simply been at his best in Liverpool.

“I was under immense pressure to defend away from home, but I stuck to the fight plan of exerting pressure on Butler by catching him with telling punches.

“This worked well, because I knocked him out,” said Tete.

He is currently taking it easy until he gets back to training in three weeks’ time.

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