Last Born sends Orient Theatre into raptures
If you think boxing in the Eastern Cape has been killed by the television blackout, think twice – this is still a major spectator sport.
Pugilism still occupies the heart and minds of people both young and old in the sprawling township of Mdantsane, as has been tradition over the years.
The sport’s pulling power was evidenced on Friday night, when thousands of spectators descended on the Orient Theatre in East London to witness an explosive seven-bout tournament staged by Sijuta Promotions. The venue was packed to capacity and fans even had to be turned away at the door, where tickets cost at least R100 per person.
The main fight on the bill was the international junior bantamweight 12-rounder between homespun hero Zolani “Last Born” Tete and Mexican Olguin Ramirez Diuhl. Tete was so great on the night that he gave his fans what they needed by stopping the out-of-sorts Diuhl in the eighth round. Supported by a vociferous crowd that erupted into song whenever Tete threw punches, the hall was rocked by the delirious crowd. Last Born’s awesome punching power sent supporters into a frenzy whenever he was on the attack.
Tete, the erstwhile International Boxing Federation champion, said he wanted one more fight before he became a promoter.
“My opponent gave me a very good fight. He showed that he was here to compete, although he could not withstand my punching power. I want one more fight, and that’s it,” he said.
The other fight that captivated the supporters was the international lightweight 10-round contest in which Xolisani “Nomeva” Ndongeni took only 1 minute and 9 seconds to knock out Argentinian Miguel Angel Ascalada in the second round. Ndongeni, who is undefeated in 19 paid fights, fought like a gladiator and gave it his all to show that he deserved respect from his supporters, who reciprocated by chanting: “There’s no one like Nomeva”.
While it was a top-class event on the night, it was the general enthusiasm of the fans that showed that the Eastern Cape is indeed still the Mecca of boxing.
The magnetism of such multitudes at fights will remain etched in the minds of followers for years to come.