Frail 104-year-old dad in crowd in­spired Cruel Ju­nior’s vic­tory

CityPress - - Sport - PULE MOKHINE pmokhine@city­press.co.za

Tsiko “Cruel Ju­nior” Mulovhedzi has ded­i­cated his lat­est win to his 104-year-old dad, James Rat­silumela, whom he de­scribes as a source of in­spi­ra­tion to his box­ing ca­reer.

Mulovhedzi (30) beat Mex­i­can challenger Je­sus Gur­rola by a unan­i­mous points de­ci­sion in de­fence of his In­ter­na­tional Box­ing Or­gan­i­sa­tion (IBO) wel­ter­weight cham­pi­onship at Ngoako Ra­matl­hodi Sports Com­plex in Seshego, Lim­popo, last Fri­day.

Mulovhedzi was at his best as he taught Gur­rola a box­ing les­son with sting­ing shots for the du­ra­tion of the bout, mak­ing easy the judges’ job of scor­ing the fight in his favour. He was in his el­e­ment, catch­ing the vis­i­tor with clean shots through­out the bout.

But Tsiko be­lieves it was his fa­ther’s pres­ence at the show­down that en­cour­aged him to put up a splen­did show­ing. Rat­silumela, who brought Tsiko into this world when he him­self was al­ready at the ripe age of 74, was seen in the crowd mum­bling some­thing to spur on his son when­ever he was on the at­tack.

“He is very old and frail to at­tend my fights, but this time he de­cided to travel 150km from Vhembe to Seshego to watch me fight. His pres­ence made me win and I’m deeply hum­bled be­cause I could see him en­cour­ag­ing me to throw those great punches dur­ing the fight,” said Tsiko.

Cruel Ju­nior said he in­her­ited his name from Rat­silumela, whom he says was a bare-knuckle boxer him­self dur­ing his time. The sport is pop­u­lar in the Venda area dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son.

“He gave me this nick­name be­cause I was ag­gres­sive and tal­ented. I owe it to him to win a uni­fied world ti­tle be­fore he goes to the grave one of th­ese days,” said Tsiko, who has com­piled a record of 11 wins, seven de­feats and three draws from 21 fights.

His fight against the Mex­i­can was his first in his home prov­ince in al­most 10 years.

His pro­moter, Ayanda Matiti, said the pugilist would have a few more fights and prob­a­bly unite the cham­pi­onship belts.

“Tsiko is one of the best punch­ers in the IBO. It would be nice to see him win a uni­fied crown in fu­ture,” said Matiti. He said south­paw Gideon Buthelezi, who beat Ar­gen­tinian Pichardo Liri­ano by a unan­i­mous de­ci­sion in his IBO su­per fly­weight de­fence on the same bill, will be back in ac­tion dur­ing a show­down to be staged at the In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion Hall in East Lon­don on July 22. Buthelezi dished out a great show­ing by catch­ing his foe with sting­ing left body shots for the du­ra­tion of the show­down to win the fight. “He is on top of his game at the mo­ment and we’d like to see him in ac­tion soon. “De­tails of the event will be dis­cussed shortly.”

PHO­TOS: GOD­FREY MANDIWANA

BANGER WITH BITE Tsiko Mulovhedzi catches Je­sus Gur­rola with a left jab dur­ing their IBO wel­ter­weight ti­tle at Seshego, Lim­popo, last Fri­day.

AC­TION Gideon Buthelezi

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