From prize fighter to matchmaker

Mzonke Fana wants to plough back into boxing by choosing which boxers are best suited to fight each other. (Lefty Shivambu, Gallo Images)
Mzonke Fana wants to plough back into boxing by choosing which boxers are best suited to fight each other. (Lefty Shivambu, Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Former two-time International Boxing Federation (IBF) champion and South Africa’s oldest active boxer, Mzonke Rose of Khayelitsha Fana, wants to be a matchmaker.

Arguably the finest pugilist to come from the Western Cape, the 43-year-old Fana, who has been throwing punches professionally for 22 years, believes the time has come for him to reward boxing and his province by using his vast skills to identify talent when he retires.

This entails matching boxers who will in future be pitted against each other during tournaments.

There have been a few world and national titleholders to emerge from the Western Cape in the past.

Fana told City Press he would hopefully hang up his gloves soon with a view to helping develop the sport of pugilism in a different aspect – as a matchmaker.

Matchmaker’s role 

In boxing terms, a matchmaker is the person in charge of arranging bouts between boxers. He looks over candidates’ fight records and 
tries to match opponents evenly. His job is to create contests that will excite fans.

“Being involved as a professional boxer for so many years has given me much experience as a prize fighter. I believe the time has come to become a matchmaker,” said Fana, who hails from Khayelitsha in Cape Town. “I have realised that there has been a lack of sufficient champs in the Western Cape as many fighters are not evenly matched during fights.”

Fana, who has had 49 professional fights, says he is hoping to work closely with promoters with a view to discussing which fighters would be suitable to be pitted against one another to draw crowds at boxing matches.

“I’d like to assist by getting up-and-coming fighters who will feature in tournaments. I feel I can also boost boxing in other aspects like managing and promoting as well, but doing matchmaking will be great” he said.

Fana said the idea to consider venturing into matchmaking emanated from his experience of having fought on many bills overseas where ex-boxers often arrange which pugilists are suitable to be matched.

Most fights in the country are organised by promoters with many of the fight brokers lacking the experience of being ex-fighters. Fana believes his involvement will give boxing a new meaning.

Fana won the IBF super featherweight crown by beating Malcolm Klassen on points at Oliver Tambo Hall in Khayelitsha in 2007. He surrendered his crown to Cassius Hitman Baloyi by a majority decision at North West University Sport Complex the following year.

Fana won the vacant IBF super featherweight diadem after beating Baloyi on points in the rematch at Carnival City in 2009.

Fana defeated Koos Sibiya by a split points decision at the Mdantsane Indoor Centre in 2015 to win the World Boxing Federation intercontinental diadem.

He also held the SA featherweight which he defended successfully five times.

Last month saw Fana collapse in the ring after losing to Ghanaian Emmanuel Tagoe by an unanimous points decision for the vacant International Boxing Organisation lightweight title at Bukom Boxing Arena in Accra.

Western Cape titleholders – Former champions

Those who held world crowns: 

Gary Murray 
August 26 1995: Won World Boxing Union welterweight title 

Mike Barnardo 
May 14 2000: Became World Boxing Federation heavyweight champion 

Virgil Kalakoda 
June 8 2001: Lifted the International Boxing Council (IBC) junior middleweight championship belt. The IBC is one of the lesser recognised world crowns. 

Some of the ex-SA titleholders: 

Mark Cameron (middleweight) 
Nika The Sting Khumalo (junior welterweight) 
Sithembile Kibiti (mini flyweight) 
Patrick Skeleton Mboma (junior featherweight) 
Sydney Msutu (welterweight) 
James Jimmy Murray (light heavyweight) 
Bashew Blue Angel Sibaca (featherweight) 
Sandile Sobandla (bantamweight) 
Chris Whiteboy (junior lightweight) 
Derrick Whiteboy (bantamweight).

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