Bergman turns Ntshingila into a Pan-African champ
Jan “Kid Gavilán” Bergman walks around from one corner to the other, inside a gymnasium in Edenvale on the East Rand, where his charge, Welcome Ntshingila, works as a fitness instructor.
On the floor of the not-so-busy structure are two World Boxing Association (WBA) Pan-African interim championship belts belonging to Ntshingila.
The 35-year-old boxer, who was born in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal, won his first crown, which was in the welterweight division, after beating Thabo Mashishi by a seventh-round technical knockout at Emperors Palace 10 years ago in 2006.
His career was moulded by his elder brother, November, who previously held the International Boxing Council featherweight title before he retired.
Welcome has since kept that belt outright.
The second diadem – the WBA Pan-African interim middleweight – landed on the boxer’s lap on May 27 after he beat Congolese Jimmy Mabudji by a unanimous decision at the Sandton Convention Centre.
And this latest feat is the one that particularly gets Bergman extremely excited as he explains that it was achieved through his hard work as the boxer’s mentor.
“Welcome and I have been involved in only three fights since he joined me as his trainer eight months ago. It makes me proud that he is my first Pan-African champion since I guided his career,” says Bergman, who trains fighters at another stable in the area.
Bergman, a former World Boxing Union welterweight champion who was one of the country’s most charismatic fighters before hanging up his gloves in 2010, is happy about his relationship with his charge. He is now a trainer.
Ntshingila is regarded as being a spent force in boxing. His record reads 20 wins, 15 defeats and four draws in 39 outings. But Bergman is unperturbed by that.
Kid Gavilán says his fighter’s experience and commendable work ethic helped them to plan well to defeat the Congolese.
He pauses for a while, looks at the boxer doing press-ups and declares proudly that his man has given him a new lease of life as a mentor.
“Welcome is young at heart and has a lot more to offer inside the ring. I want him to defend his crown twice and ultimately challenge for the WBA world title,” says Bergman.
It’s nice to give back to the sport by producing a world champ JAN BERGMAN
He pats himself on the back by saying he is proud to contribute to boxing by producing a Pan-African titleholder.
“I did well as a boxer and think it’s nice to give back to the sport by producing a world champ,” he says.
Other boxers whose careers are honed by Bergman include: Brandon Sweetnam (super middleweight); Barend van Rooyen (middleweight); and Stone van Aswegen (welterweight).
Ntshingila, who turned professional in 2002, says he is happy to be trained by Bergman.
“He is one of the best trainers I’ve ever worked with and he knows how to get the best out of a fighter. I would like to win a world crown under his guidance before I call it quits.”