South African boxing legends gathered at the iconic Uncle Tom’s Community Centre in Orlando West, Soweto last weekend to plot the sport’s revival.
In its heyday, boxing was South Africa’s prime sport, only rivalled by football in popularity. While the latter has maintained its status over the years, boxing has experienced a sharp decline.
That is what prompted the Gauteng Boxing Promoters Association (GBPA) to organise an event, during which, some of the most prominent names in South African boxing history would reunite to discuss solutions.
“We wanted our veterans to know that they are valued and we love them. We want to find sustainable solutions to challenges that face boxing and we hope to have similar engagement with Boxing South Africa in future,” said chairman of the GBPA, Tshele Kometsi.
Several issues were discussed on the day, such as solutions to curb the sport’s decline in popularity, the role of boxing legends in the South African boxing scene and the establishment of a Boxing Hall of Fame. Chairman of Boxing South Africa (BSA), Luthando Jack, applauded the GBPA for organising the event.
“I am happy to be amongst the giants. I agree, fully, with everything that has been said. Particularly, the aspect of unity, because that is what will bring boxing back to where these legends put it and to where this golden generation put it,” he said.
The star-studded list of attendees included Harold Volbrechst and Morris “Yankee” Mohloai – the pair who unified the welterweight championship in 1978, a first in South African boxing history.
Other boxing legends in attendance included former flyweight champion, Johannes “Slashing Tiger” Sithebe and Giovanni “Shosholoza” Pretorius, who represented South Africa in the 1992 Olympic Games.
“It was great to be here today, as veterans to get together and build boxing. It is a great sport and we want to see it go forward. There is still a lot of work to be done but we will keep going,” Pretorius said.
The event also received support from the East Rand Veterans Boxing Association (ERVBA) and a significant sponsorship from Exec Care.Veteran boxing promoters Pat Molefe and Obed Molekwa were honoured for their contributions to the growth of boxing in South Africa. – Soweto Urban