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.

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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.

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