Keeping the legacy alive
Blood, sweat and boxing
Toweel junior is the son of late boxing mentor Alan Toweel, one of six siblings who helped engrave this surname in boxing’s history books.
The others were the late Vic, Maurice, Frazer and Jimmy, and Willie, who is still alive. Vic was the only South African to wear the undisputed world bantamweight belt, and he also held the national bantamweight, featherweight and British Empire bantamweight diadems.
Alan senior was a trainer who honed the skills of pugilists in the backyard of the family’s home in Linden, Johannesburg.
Now his son has embraced the sport and is knocking fighters into shape in the garage of their second home on the same street.
Alan junior (52) is currently in charge of 13 professional fighters, one of whom is 25-year-old Rofhiwa Maemu from Pimville in Soweto.
Maemu stopped Prince Ndlovu in the second round to be crowned the African Boxing Union featherweight champion in Blairgowrie, northern Johannesburg, two weeks ago.
Pictures of all the Toweels in action during their prime adorn the four walls of the Linden gym, where his boxers are hard at work.
“I’d like to see all my fighters be great in the ring, like some of these uncles of mine that you see on the walls,” says Alan junior as he points to Vic’s photo.
The trainer tells his charges that his relatives were so dedicated to the sport and worked so hard that they became world champions.
“Rofhiwa is obviously my main man who is being looked up to by all fighters in the stable. He has done well since joining our gym 18 months ago.
“He will be crowned world champion in the near future,” Toweel says.
He points to another one of his sluggers, Jeff Magagane, a lightweight campaigner who has lost only once in nine paid fights.
“I can’t help seeing myself having all world and South Africa title holders being from the same gym in future. This will be great for the Toweel family as a whole,” says the trainer.
As we depart, he reminds me to keep the Toweel name in mind and to expect more champions. The South African boxing ring has been lucky to see prominent boxers come from the same families.
Jabulani Malinga, who died four years ago, made a meaningful contribution to boxing by steering his sons Vusi, Peter, Patrick and Samuel to the top.
Vusi has won a South African bantamweight title, as well as World Boxing Organisation (WBO) Africa and WBO international belts.
Peter lifted the WBO and International Boxing Union welterweight diadems, while Patrick took the national lightweight honours. Samuel held the national and World Boxing Association (WBA) Pan-African super lightweight championships.
Then there is national middleweight champion, Charles Oosthuizen, who shaped his son Thomas’ career – he went on to hold the WBA Pan-African and African crowns.
Other prominent families:
Steyn: Stoffel; Andries Jr; Gert and Japie
Whiteboy: Lesley; Chris; Bramley; Ashley and Trevor Bungu: Vuyani and Dudu Joyi: Themba and Nkosinathi Tete: Zolani and Makazole Knoetze: Kallie and Bennie