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.