17 June 2019

South Africa: Lords of the Ring - the Past, Present and Future of SA Boxing

analysis

Boxing has had an up-and-down history in South Africa, but the country currently has three world champions and some exciting prospects.

On 31 May 1950, Vic Toweel made history. Inside a boxing ring in Johannesburg, Toweel outpointed Manuel Ortiz and became bantamweight champion of the world. He was South Africa's first world champion.

Fighting in the same weight class almost 67 years later, Zolani Tete won a piece of the bantamweight world title. At the time, he was South Africa's only world champion, just like Toweel had been.

There were a number of world champions in between Toweel and Tete, but there have also been long droughts. So is South African boxing getting better or worse? To answer that, let's look at where it's been.

***

It's December 2009, and Brian Mitchell is playing a round of golf. The most accomplished fighter in South African boxing history gets a call.

"I thought they were joking," he told Daily Maverick. "I thought it was somebody playing a prank on me. Because it'd been 18 years."

It's the International Boxing Hall of Fame, and they're telling Mitchell he's just become the first ever South African to be inducted. None have got that...

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