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He plans to help youngsters
IRVIN ‘‘ Pretty Boy ” Buhlalu is hanging up his boxing gloves after 17 years in the ring.
The 39-year-old was part of the class of 1996 that represented South Africa in the Atlanta Olympics Games, and was the only member of that golden generation who was still active in the ring.
The former South African and All Africa lightweight champion said he had realised that the time had come to make way for the next generation.
‘‘ My time is up as a fighter,” he said this week. ‘‘ I have so many things to do in life, including assisting young boxers like Ricardo Hiraman in the ring.”
Hiraman is the only Indian professional boxer in the country.
Bahlalu, from Chesterville, Durban, will be remembered for delivering a speech on behalf of thenpresident Nelson Mandela when the South African team arrived at the Atlanta Olympics.
Buhlalu, Masibulele ‘‘ Hawk ” Makepula , Phillip “Time Bomb ” Ndou, Victor Kunene and Soon Botes were the five boxers in that team.
Though their participation ended in the second round, most of them went on to make names for themselves in the professional ranks.
Kunene never turned professional. Makepula won the World Boxing Union (WBU) and World Boxing Organisation junior flyweight and the International Boxing Organisation flyweight titles.
One of his notable wins was against Jacob ‘‘ Baby Jake ” Matlala in Brakpan on February 19 2000.
Ndou won the South African and World Boxing Association Intercontinental featherweight, and WBU and World Boxing Council (WBC) International junior lightweight titles.
He lost to WBC lightweight champion Floyd Mayweather.
But Buhlalu, who started his career under trainer Dingane Mahlasela, could only capture the South African and All Africa belts.
He said lack of opportunities pre- vented him from reaching the heights scaled by Ndou and Makepula.
“I could not leave my daily job and focus on boxing, hoping to become a world champion, because promoters think of themselves only.”
Even so, the fistic sport had been good to him, he said.
“I will now be grooming youngsters in Chesterville.”
He won 27 of his 37 fights. He defended the national title six times before losing it in 2008.
Buhlalu remains the only national boxing champion from that part of the country.
‘‘ As a post office employee, I deal with different crops of people every day, but I ’ m able to handle whatever behaviour because of the experience I learnt from boxing. No matter how good you are as a boxer, you must still respect the other boxer because we are all human beings. I am gone forever, goodbye as a boxer. ”
Buhlalu saw no action in 2010, but fought once in 2011. He had one fight in 2012 and twice last year, winning one and losing the other. He then met Paul Kamanga, a 23-year-old novice of eight wins, who knocked him out in the first round two weekends ago in Soweto.
That was Buhlalu ’ s swansong.
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