Great white hopes return to the ring

2011-02-19 19:09

White boxers are now hungry, ­fearless and can take a shot without wincing and cringing.

That runs contrary to the premise once held by influential fight personalities, considering the forthcoming national light heavyweight title fight.

Strange but true, in a virtually ­unheard of combat, Johnny Muller defends the crown against fellow-white Rudolph Venter at ­Emperors Palace on March 1.

This title fight perhaps explodes a myth once entertained by those who made unfavourable comments, about why most whites were ­shunning

Legendary Jacob “Baby Jake” ­Matlala stressed that boxing “was a destructive game and whites don’t like getting hurt, and are not as hungry as blacks, and that is why they were outnumbered”.

More than 35 years ago, whites made up about 40% of boxers but the figure ultimately declined to an unbelievable 2% eight years ago.

Currently, the figure has increased to 10%, according to Abram “Khazamula” Khambule of Boxing South ­Africa (BSA).

BSA’s chairperson Dr Peter ­Ngatane said whites could not handle getting hit and successful boxers from all over the world hail from
impoverished homes.

Three-time world champion ­Dingaan “The Rose of Soweto” ­Thobela reiterated that competition was too harsh for whites.

Historian Ron Jackson (74) pointed out: “Young whites, unlike in my day, don’t want to take a shot in the nose because they are soft.”

Ex-world referee and judge Stanley Christodoulou emphasised the point that there “are no longer active amateur boxing programmes at schools, ­universities, police forces and the ­defence forces.

“This has been responsible for lack of whites in boxing. A number of white boxers such as Pierre Coetzer, Bennie Knoetze and others emerged from the police and defence forces.”

Controversial trainer Nick Durandt once caused a stir when he said “white boxers were the laziest and least disciplined” fighters in SA.

Khambule emphasised that they were leaving no stone unturned in making certain that more whites were recruited into the sport by encouraging white youngsters to join ­the boxing fraternity.

The country boasted a number of top white fighters in the past.

They are: Brian Mitchell, Gerrie Coetzee, Corrie Sanders, Arnold Taylor, Vic Toweel, Piet Crous, Phillip Holiday, Harold Volbrecht, Andries Steyn, Gert Steyn, Pierre Coetzer, Sakkie Horn, Freddie Rafferty, Brett Taylor, Martin Botes, Charlie Weir and Charles ­Oosthuizen.

However, even though the percentage has increased from 2% to 10% in about eight years, producer of world champions Mzi Mnguni did not share these news.

Mnguni said: “The biggest challenge we have is increasing clubs in Soweto as they have been decreasing alarmingly, not focusing on increasing the number of whites.

“Right now Dube Boxing Club, which boasted the cream of the country, does not even have a single professional and its death is ­looming.”

Mnguni said that eventually even amateur boxers would completely fade away because they no longer had idols (professionals) to admire.

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