Box­ers’ spe­cial bond with prison

Sunday World - - Sport - By Bon­gani Ma­gasela

To his de­trac­tors it may sound funny that we are glo­ri­fy­ing some­one whose way­ward life landed him in jail.

But Thomas “Tommy Gun” Oosthuizen, the the for­mer two weight divi­sion box­ing cham­pion - IBO su­per mid­dleweight and light heavy­weight ti­tlist - is a good boxer de­serv­ing credit for his craft.

Hav­ing spent al­most 17 months be­hind bars for deal­ing in drugs, the 30-year-old tal­ented left-han­der, the son of for­mer SA ju­nior mid­dleweight and mid­dleweight cham­pion Charles Oosthuizen, walked straight into an ABU ti­tle fight and won it against Thabiso Mchunu last week­end.

Oosthuizen re­mains un­de­feated in a lo­cal ring and is yet to lose against aSouthAfrican. He joins the­list which in­cludes Sa­belo Ju­batha, Mzuk­isi Roberts, Lindile Tshemese, Jarred Sil­ver­man and Din­gaan “Rose of Soweto” Tho­bela.

Ju­batha served seven years of a 15-year con­vic­tion for rape. He re­ceived pa­role in 2007, fought his first pro­fes­sional box­ing­match in2008, and­won the SA feath­er­weight ti­tle in 2009. He lost it in 2012 and re­tired in 2013.

Roberts was jailed for 19 years for mur­der. He in­fa­mously made head­lines af­ter be­ing smug­gled out of jail in 2003 to fight in a box­ing tour­na­ment with­out a li­cence.

Tshemese spent 10 years of his 15-year-term in var­i­ous pris­ons for rob­bery. He made his pro­fes­sional de­but in 2012, and he won the South African ju­nior ban­tamweight ti­tle in his 10th fight in 2015. He lost it in 2017 and failed in his at­tempt to re­gain it on Au­gust 26.

Sil­ver­man was sen­tenced to five years for at­tempted mur­der at a mu­sic fes­ti­val in Boks­burg. He is out pend­ing ap­peal.

Tho­bela landed in a Bar­ber­ton Prison cell not be­cause he com­mit­ted a crime, but to train hard to get into shape.

In some cases, the ex­pe­ri­ence launched a suc­cess­ful ca­reer of life re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

In others, it was the end of a tu­mul­tuous ex­is­tence. For each, it played an in­te­gral role in shap­ing their lives and our per­cep­tion – for bet­ter or worse.

/ Syd­ney Mahlangu/Back­pagePix

Mac­cabi FC striker Collins Mbe­suma, left, is gear­ing to pro­pel team into PSL.

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