Losing against the same adversary for the umpteenth time does not necessarily spell doom and gloom.
Ask legendary Jacob “Baby Jake” Matlala.
This thought was echoed by Stanley Ndlovu, the father and former trainer of Takalani “Panther” Ndlovu.
Ndlovu senior needs this positive perspective for inspiration purposes as his son faces Canadian Steve Molitor, a man who previously beat him twice.
They meet for Molitor’s International Boxing Federation (IBF) super bantamweight crown in Montreal, Canada, on March 19.
The Canadian stopped the South African in round nine two years ago when they confronted each other for the then vacant title.
Courageously, Takalani challenged Molitor a year later and was beaten on points.
Some boxers, including Matlala, have lost more than once but subsequently went on to become household names.
Matlala was punished three times, stopped in the third encounter by Vuyani Nene, a fighter the boxing fraternity had never heard of, but went on to win four world titles.
This thought is what impels Takalani to challenge his former conqueror.
Ndlovu senior believes Matlala personifies the idea that greatness is not determined by not falling, but by getting up and continuing.
“Matlala was beaten three times by Nene,” said Ndlovu senior.
The father pointed out that Matlala, regardless of those defeats, is established worldwide.
He also highlighted that Takalani’s current trainer, Manny Fernandez, who was unavailable for comment, shares his belief, explaining why they were challenging Molitor.
Ndlovu junior himself beat Joshua Kgwase, William Mpongo and Mpho Mothiba, all two times each.
Boxers are perhaps a mysterious breed, tackling their former conquerors, believing that they will ultimately mete out vengeance.
Johannes “Slashing Tiger” Sithebe tried it seven times, and was whipped on all occasions by Peter “Terror” Mathebula, the first black South African boxer to win a world title.
Sithebe, a man far outsized by fellow flyweight foes as there were no junior flyweight and mini-flyweight divisions in the 1970s, was beaten on points six times.
To prove his superiority, Mathebula, who later seized the World Boxing Association flyweight crown from Tae Shik Kim, stopped Sithebe in their seventh brawl.
Ironically, Sithebe, regardless of the beatings, often boasts today that “I made Mathebula what he is”.
After the seventh hostility, Sithebe, who publicly shadow- boxes at funerals of boxing personalities in his boxing
gear, suffered a detached retina.
Under normal circumstances, when a man has thrashed you, you should stay away from him because he has earned your respect, but this does not seem to be the case with boxers.
Welcome Ncita, the first South African to win an IBF crown, the super bantamweight title, beat defence maniac Johannes “Baby Joe” Miya three times.
Norman “Pangaman” Sekgapane outpointed Anthony “Blue Jaguar” Morodi twice.
Morodi outboxed Enoch “Schoolboy” Nhlapo twice.
Joseph Gumede knocked out Anthony “Kid Snowball” Sithole twice, strangely in the same round – nine.
Why do boxers keep facing a foe who has beaten them more than once?
Ndlovu senior believes that facing your more-than-once tormentor gives you an advantage and you ultimately “go all out because you have nothing to lose.”