Revive boxing to aid community

2015-04-30 17:03

IN the 1970s and 1980s Welkom was a hub for boxing in South Africa, with the Western Holdings Mine boasting one of the best development stables ever, producing world-class pugilists.

One of these were Daniel “Baby Cassius” Mapanya, undisputed former South African middleweight champion, who reigned supreme at the time. Others include stylish Peter “Byl” Mgojo and Jacob “Pretty Boy” Moyeye. Those who emerged from the development were absorbed by the mine and were employed.

But presently, following the demise of the mines and related industries in the Lejweleputswa Region, we need the sporting fraternity more than ever.

Facilities are few. Gang wars are ravaging our communities, as rival factions are killing one another like dogs over nonsensical disagreements. Sport as recreation and source of employment is generally dead, especially boxing.

The few promotors who have survived, face an uncertain future. Declining spectator attendance, coupled with a lack of television coverage, threatens the already struggling sport.

The unending controversies in Boxing South Africa as a federation, the disappearance of charismatic personalities and the martial arts that mix karate with boxing could be some of the reasons for the declining standards.

The Free State administration invested money in boxing when it came into power in 1999. Boxing tournaments catering for both women and men were growing. Boxers were also featured at the annual Mangaung African Cultural Festival (Macufe).

However, the dream to grow the sport has gone up in smoke. Attendance was good in the past. The best boxers of that golden era were the late Charlie “Silver Assassin” Weir, Mapanya, Vuyani Bungu, Welcome “The Hawk” Ncita, Dingaan “The Rose” Thobela and Brian Mitchell. The contests featuring these legends were selling like hot cakes all over South Africa.

Mapanya sold 200 tickets by himself. Thobela drew more than 5 000 spectators to his fights in the 1990s. It is sad today that excitement has subsided with the exit of that golden generation. In Thabong, we had stables such as the Thabong Boxing Club, the Thusanong Boxing Club and the Royal Boxing Club. Those stables disbanded after the retirement of promotors like Jimmy Sehloho and the late Spider Manyaniso.

Other exciting boxers to emerge from the Goldfields included the late Godfrey Nkate and his brother Kid Nkate, Billy Mohlabane, Mentor Ncheche, Jacob Motseki, Pitso Sesing, Shamba Mokone and Jacob Diraditsile.

The national and provincial government need to embark on road shows and meet with boxing personalities in an effort to revive the sport.

We also need a strong boxing board with men and women who are prepared to serve the sport, men and women who will not be there for their selfish and personal interests.

During our time at high school, schools had their own boxing gyms. What has happed to the sport at school level?

We really would have no reason to complain about the high unemployment rate. Look at Tiger Woods, who has never bothered to look for employment in his life. Floyd “Money-maker” Mayweather who never wakes up in the morning to queue for employment at the labour market.

A good boxing and ice-skating facility in Constantia Road has been outsourced and converted into a truck repair and spares shop, yet we speak of our youth not being passionate.

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