“Teach” Spelman deserves honour

2017-04-13 06:01
Themba SpelmanPHOTO: thembile ndabeni

Themba SpelmanPHOTO: thembile ndabeni

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Growing up in the townships we faced a lot of challenges, some of which were lack of facilities, but that did not deter us from excelling in the few sport codes that we had access to.

The most prevalent was soccer and boxing. In the two sporting codes the townships managed, icons gained respect and admiration.

Though Luyolo Boxing Club did not have the best facilities, people like Mr Mange made the best out of nothing.

It produced champions like Bowell “Black Power” Zono, National Junior Featherweight Champion Sipho “Playboy” Mange and Mzwandile “Skeleton” Mboma.

But in the making of the champions and professionals boxers was an administrator Mr. Themba “Teach” Spelman. He was well respected in the community especially in Section Three in Gugulethu.

Teach contributed to professional boxing and championships in Luyolo and Langa’s Harlem Boys Boxing Clubs.

With Teach’s passion and commitment boxers Zono, Mange and Mboma became professionals and champions in their lifetime.

In preparation for a fight, he would carefully select sparring partners and would also take a couple of rounds himself.

He did the same with boxers from other boxing clubs in need.

In Langa he assisted Mthuthuzeli Bashew “Blue Angel” Sibaca with his dethronement of Tsietsi “Mantequila” Maretloane for the National Featherweight title in 1978.

After retirement as administrator, it was believed Teach would be available as a patron, adviser and motivator at Luyolo Boxing Club or elsewhere. He would certainly have made a difference.

For him, the challenges that Black communities faced in the townships were never a barrier to achievement.

There were no proper and adequate facilities, but the achievements were enormous and glorious.

That was because of unsung heroes like “Teach”. If it was not for him and others may some boxers would not have made it. People like Teach enhanced their talents.

The government, through local, regional and provincial structures should at least do something to sustain the gains of the past.

Teach might have not been successful as a boxer but shined in the glory of assisting in making better boxers and champions.

It is not too late for Teach to be honoured. Luckily is he is still alive and will be 80 on 12 April.

.Thembile Ndabeni writes in his own capacity and holds Master’s degree in South African politics and political economy from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.

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