UDubs Boxers on Fire
After winning four medals at the South African National Amateur Boxing Organisation’s National Championships last month – their most medals from the annual event – UWC Boxers have turned their attention to the newly established Open Boxing League (OBL).
Of the 15 boxers who represented the Western Cape Boxing team at the OBL first round in East London on 19 August 2017, seven were from UWC.
Their selection for the OBL came after four of them performed exceptionally well at the South African Nationals Boxing Organisation’s Championships, where Blom defended his South African Under 64 kg Title for the fourth year in a row. Drewery marked her arrival to boxing in style, winning a silver medal, while Nkqetho and Sentile both came home with bronze medals.
Under the guidance of UWC boxing coach Ayanda Mapasa, female boxers Gabriella “Zimkhitha” Drewery, Bongiwe Sihluku and Olivia Williams, as well as their male counterparts Sinethemba Blom, Gift Tracey, Phumlani Nkqetho and Asemahle Sentile represented the province at the OBL event.
South African champion, Blom, and Drewery - who is in her rookie season as a boxer - came out with wins, while others narrowly lost their bouts either with split decisions or very close scores.
The OBL was launched earlier this year, after former South African Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula injected R10 million into the initiative to help develop boxers for the Commonwealth Games and the Olympic Games. Part of the motivation for this: South Africa had no boxing representation at the 2016 Rio Olympics – for the first time since the country was readmitted to the international sports competition.
The nine South African provinces are divided into red and blue corners, with the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Northern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Free State forming part of the red corner, and the remaining provinces comprising the blue corner.
Nkqetho, who is doing his BCom general at UWC, says the UWC boxers have done well in the opening round of the league, and more is to come in the future bouts.
“Although some of us slightly lost our bouts, our team performed exceptionally well,” he comments. “Come the second round, I’m sure we will come back victorious.”
Nkqetho adds that the great performance of the boxing members will be a motivation even to future students and will help to change the mindsets of those who still look down on the sport.
Many boxers feel the sporting code is not treated fairly by some sports authorities and the corporate sector, as compared to other codes, and believe that codes should be prioritised based on their performances and achievements.
“Also, a lot of attention is given to the higher ranked boxers, and more should be done at grassroots level in terms of improving training facilities, and so on,” added Drewery.
The boxers credit their solid showing at the tournament to the support they have been getting from the University, the boxing fraternity in the province, and friends and family - as well as the training by the coaching staff, naturally.
The second round of the Open Boxing League takes place this coming weekend, also in East London.