The Chron­i­cle

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News -

BU­L­AWAYO, Mon­day, Novem­ber 28, 1966 — With­out de­cry­ing the fare on of­fer in Bu­l­awayo on Satur­day night, it seemed rather easy to win a South African am­a­teur box­ing ti­tle for 1966 in about half the 10 weight di­vi­sions.

With the top men miss­ing in the ban­tams, feath­ers, light weights, wel­ters and heav­ies, maybe the ap­par­ently low stan­dard is not a true pic­ture of the South­ern African scene — but with a to­tal en­try of 44 box­ers from only seven cen­tres (and more than a third of them from Transvaal) it would seem to be an un­bal­anced set-up.

Maybe the time has come to come to split up the tremen­dous strength of Transvaal into three or four sub-prov­inces — South­ern, North­ern and Western and pos­si­bly Vaal. Once again it was no­tice­able that South African uni­ver­si­ties, a power in most other sports in the Repub­lic, were not rep­re­sented, and I fancy it is al­most a decade since any univer­sity made its mark in the Spring­bok box­ing.

In other words, the 1966 cham­pi­onships were not truly rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the sport as a whole in South­ern Africa. Two fight­ers from Free State, a hand­ful from Port El­iz­a­beth, and Natal, 15 from Transvaal, a small but use­ful Rhode­sian con­tin­gent, and strong sides from the South African Po­lice and De­fence Force. Surely this is not rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the coun­try as a whole.

You don’t al­ways need quantity to en­sure qual­ity. In the fly-weights, there were only three en­trants — yet the lit­tle men pro­vided the best bouts of the cham­pi­onships.

For this we can thank 17-year-old Bu­l­awayo ap­pren­tice elec­tri­cian Ron­nie Bell. In the semi-fi­nal he beat Leon Weitz of East­ern prov­ince in only his fourth se­nior bout, and then he took on the tough, ex­pe­ri­enced Spring­bok, Mike But­tle, in the fi­nal, and gave But­tle the chance to win the best boxer award by putting up a per­for­mance worth five stars in any con­nois­seur’s rat­ing.

This ding-dong Bell was the find of the cham­pi­onships — and one I’ll be look­ing for­ward to see­ing many times in the fu­ture.

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