The revival of boxing in South Africa is slowly gaining momentum. The J4Joy International Boxing tournament was staged in Middelburg, Mpumalanga, this past weekend.
There were four title bouts, namely the South African National bantamweight title fight, the WBF Junior Featherweight Intercontinental championship bout, the Mpumalanga Bantamweight provincial title fight and a Women’s Super-Bantamweight World Championship fight. South African Boxing legends, including the late Jacob ‘Baby Jake’ Matlala, were honoured during the event for their contribution to the sport.
Boxing was once one of the most loved sports in South Africa. Enthusiasts would wake up in the wee hours to watch the likes of Dingaan Thobela, Thulani Malinga, Jacob Matlala and others, fighting across the globe.
However, well-publicised problems at Boxing South Africa took the spotlight, while the sport was taking a backseat.
That is what prompted J4Joy Boxing Promotions to revive the sport. They have hosted three events in 12 months, including four title bouts this past weekend.
J4Joy Boxing’s Stanley Khoza says, “When you are driven by passion to bring back SA boxing into mainstream, the hope was and is always there. It’s about placing boxing back at the front by making sure we bring the best fighters.”
Driven by determination, they hosted their first event in Sandton during the hard lockdown. And in April this year, a national boxing event with half capacity was held in Middelburg.
They couldn’t be happier with the lifting of the lockdown restrictions and they took full advantage of that by staging an international boxing tournament. Royalty has endorsed the revival of boxing as well. King Mangaliso Ndlovuyezwe Ndamase of the AmaMpondo aseNyandeni in the Eastern Cape and Prince Tikhontele Dlamini, a custodian of Swazi culture and customs in Mpumalanga, attended all three previous events.
During the international tournament, 10 boxing legends were also honoured. One of them was Jan Bergman.
SA Boxing Legend, Jan Bergman says, “I’m very grateful for what they are doing, it inspires us. It tells me that my family must not come and get honourable things after I passed on. We need to make sure that boxing is alive and kicking because there are very good boxers out there.”
Katie Healy from the United Kingdom walked away with the WBF Super-Bantamweight World title after being victorious against Matshidiso Mokebisi. Ronald Malindi, meanwhile, retained his SA National championship belt.
Thato Bonokoane held on to his WBF Junior Featherweight Intercontinental title, beating Jhaleel Payao of the Philippines with a knockout in the last round.
WBF Juniour Featherweight Intercontinental Champ, Thato Bonokoane says, “They thought they had a number on me but it’s not easy to try to trap me. I’m happy I won, I game my best. It’s nice to be victorious and defend what is yours. I love my belt and I don’t want anybody to take it away from me.”
New WBF Super Bantamweight Champ, Katie Healy says, “We were very confident coming to this fight. And I said from the beginning that the belt was coming back home to the UK. There is no better feeling when it is actually placed around your waist.”
SA National Champion, Ronald Malindi says, “There was pressure when I got letters from BSA that I was going to be stripped. It never hurt me.”
The next stop is the Eastern Cape in October, with another tournament being staged in Durban two months later.