Who rules with most SA ti­tles?

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

The state of South African pro­fes­sional box­ing has seen a sprin­kling of na­tional cham­pi­ons, with the East­ern Cape lead­ing all other prov­inces with seven na­tional ti­tle­hold­ers to its credit.

This big num­ber, which is com­prised of fight­ers who mostly call shots in smaller weight di­vi­sions, proves that the province lives up to its top billing – be­ing the tra­di­tional breed­ing ground of box­ing.

The area is also fa­mous for hav­ing pro­duced some of the finest train­ers and pro­mot­ers who have seen to it that box­ing is alive and well.

The province has churned out renowned world cham­pi­ons in the past, in­clud­ing Wel­come “Hawk” Ncita and Vuyani “The Beast” Bungu. Both reigned supreme as In­ter­na­tional Box­ing Fed­er­a­tion ju­nior feath­er­weight ti­tle­hold­ers.

The area added its sev­enth SA ti­tle­holder last Sun­day with Thu­lani Mbenge, who de­throned Shaun Ness to be crowned wel­ter­weight king.

Trail­ing with more ti­tle cham­pi­onship belts are Gaut­eng and KwaZulu-Na­tal, with three king­pins apiece.

West­ern Cape and Lim­popo boast one ti­tle­holder each.

Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est rat­ing list, Khayelit­sha’s Mzonke Fana, who holds the SA ti­tle, is still ac­tive in the ring de­spite be­ing 43.

There are no cham­pi­ons in four other prov­inces: Free State; North West; Mpumalanga and North­ern Cape.

Part of the rea­son for the scarcity of na­tional cham­pi­ons in some of these prov­inces is that there are not enough pro­mot­ers to stage fights there (see graphic).

The other fac­tor is that most box­ers from these ar­eas have opted to fur­ther their box­ing careers out­side of their province.

But box­ing seems to be thriv­ing in the Free State. Pro­moter Lebo Ma­hoko of Dream Team Gym is keep­ing the fight­ers busy. He staged nu­mer­ous ti­tle fights in the area last year.

Box­ing SA chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Tsholofelo Le­jaka said prov­inces with the most mass-based ac­tiv­ity at com­mu­nity level like the East­ern Cape and Gaut­eng tended to be the ones that pro­duced most of the na­tional cham­pi­ons.

“This pat­tern con­tin­ues the same way down to prov­inces with the least or no box­ing ac­tiv­ity at lo­cal level,” said Le­jaka.

“Such prov­inces ap­pear to be the ones that typ­i­cally have no box­ers among our na­tional cham­pi­ons.”

Le­jaka said their main chal­lenge was to pri­ori­tise box­ing devel­op­ment at com­mu­nity level be­cause “the stronger com­mu­nity par­tic­i­pa­tion we have, the more chances that such com­mu­ni­ties will go on to pro­duce na­tional and world cham­pi­ons.”

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