Thobile Khumalo (30) is breaking boundaries as one of few female sporting agents in boxing. She chats to Kwanele Mathebula about how she got started.
Thobile Khumalo is breaking boundaries in the world of boxing
I started boxing in 2014. I visited the Hillbrow Boxing Club with the intention of signing up to exercise. I started attending boxing classes, and I enjoyed them. My interest in the sport grew, and I wanted to explore other avenues in it. The more I learnt about boxing, the more I wanted to get involved. The officials from Boxing South Africa (BSA) visited the club often. They were looking for up-and-coming boxers, and would share updates on the sporting code. I also met Rita Mrwebi, one of the most notable female boxers. She told me about the struggles of being a woman who did boxing; which were access to funding, securing tournaments and getting support from the BSA. This sparked my interest in becoming a boxing judge.
I qualified as a boxing judge in 2016. Towards the end of 2015, I enrolled for a BSA ring official course that was six months and covered theory and practical training. I spent some time at live matches where I got to test my theory to make sure that I knew how to apply my knowledge. I graduated in 2016 as the only female judge in my class. And, I went on to work as a professional judge for a year. I watched boxing matches and assigned or deducted points to each boxer based on their technique. I started to realise the gap for female promoters and decided to do something to change that.
I formed Diva Studio Promotions in 2017. Before becoming a promoter, I had to get my license from the BSA. The licence requires that promoters undergo an examination to test their knowledge of the Boxing Act, be well-versed with the titles, weight categories and have experience of working within the sport. I went through the process of acquiring my licence and obtained it in 2017. I then started my promotions company where I represent and promote boxers and matches for clients. I am also working on grooming other up-and-coming boxers.
Securing funding for tournaments has been a challenge. Boxing is still a maledominated industry which makes it hard to find sponsorships. Companies and the government’s lack of faith in women’s ability to become professional boxers is a struggle. Convincing people to support has fortunately worked for me. This has made me more determined in hosting more female-focused tournaments.
I am excited to be nurturing new talent. I am working on securing a long-term sponsor that will fund more female boxing tournaments. This will help grow the sport and support up-and-coming female and aspiring boxers. And, we’re currently preparing for tournaments in 2019, and hope to win a championship belt for our boxers. I have also ventured into hosting annual soccer tournaments for female teams to compete in. The 2019 edition of the boxing and soccer tournaments will see teams from 163 schools participating, which I am excited about.