Fam­ily man

Buthelezi to de­fend IBO su­per-fly­weight ti­tle in ‘cru­cial’ bout against Ryan Rey Pon­teras that may lead to big things in US

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

Out­side the ring, he is a ded­i­cated fam­ily man who be­comes a mean boxer with a pen­chant for in­flict­ing pain on his op­po­nents in­side the square jun­gle. Meet­ing Gideon “Hard­core” Buthelezi dur­ing a train­ing ses­sion in South­dale, a sub­urb west of Johannesburg, re­flects a car­ing hus­band and fa­ther fig­ure whose heart is close to three im­por­tant peo­ple in his life – wife Mpho, daugh­ter Pre­cious (7) and son Njab­ulo (2).

Since the schools closed for the win­ter hol­i­days, Buthelezi and his fam­ily have been trav­el­ling 74km al­most daily from their home in Boipa­tong, Van­der­bi­jl­park, south of Johannesburg, to the gym where he keeps in shape for his up­com­ing fight.

The 30-year-old fighter will put his In­ter­na­tional Box­ing Or­gan­i­sa­tion (IBO) su­per-fly­weight ti­tle on the line against Filipino Ryan Rey Pon­teras at the In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­tre in East Lon­don on July 28.

In­side a small gym called Fan­tas­tic, si­t­u­ated a few blocks away from a busy shop­ping mall, Buthelezi’s three­mem­ber fan club yells at him, spurring him on to give it his all. He re­sponds by push­ing him­self at the punch­ing bag and skip­ping ropes in prepa­ra­tion for his fight.

As he shadow boxes, one can’t help but see the sweat drip­ping from a scar on the side of his head – the re­sult of a taxi ac­ci­dent in Boipa­tong 15 years ago.

Stop­ping mo­men­tar­ily to thank his wife and the young ones for be­ing so sup­port­ive dur­ing an in­tense work­out, Hard­core, who is trained by Elias Tsha­bal­ala, says his up­com­ing bout is cru­cial.

“Mak­ing a suc­cess­ful de­fence against Pon­teras will mean a lot to me. It has been promised that I’ll fea­ture on the bill of a world ti­tle fight in the US in Septem­ber, so I have to win my next fight at all costs.”

He said he would ded­i­cate his win to his fam­ily, which is “ex­tremely sup­port­ive” of his fistic ca­reer.

Hard­core, who is one of the most en­ter­pris­ing south­paws in the coun­try, knows noth­ing about the man he will be fac­ing.

“I haven’t heard a word men­tioned about his strengths or weak­nesses, but I’m go­ing to knock him out.”

He is look­ing for­ward to sur­pass­ing Pon­teras and then later mak­ing his mark in front of an Amer­i­can au­di­ence by win­ning – if the Septem­ber clash ma­te­ri­alises.

Hard­core’s face lights up as he says he is also wait­ing with bated breath to step into the ring against his friend Moruti “Baby­face” Mtha­lane to prove who the coun­try’s best su­per-fly­weight pugilist is.

The non­ti­tle bout that fans are dy­ing to see has been mooted by Golden Gloves Pro­mo­tions.

“Moruti and I are friends, but the whole coun­try wants us to fight and prove who is the best in the divi­sion,” says Buthelezi.

But, for now, Hard­core wants noth­ing more than vic­tory over Pon­teras.

PHOTO: LEON SADIKI

TIES THAT BIND Gideon Buthelezi at the gym with his wife and chil­dren

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