Bergman turns Nt­shingila into a Pan-African champ

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

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.”

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