Sun Oct 22 17:33:08 CAT 2017

'We're going to win'

2012-04-29 14:49:41.0 | RAMATSIYI MOHOLOA |

WITH women's boxing making its debut at the Olympics in London in July, the South African team is confident they will come back with a medal to show off in the sport this time round.

PREVIOUS BEST: Phillip Ndou. Picture by Antonio Muchave

 I have no doubt we will end the drought of medals 

If it happens, it will be South Africa's first Olympic boxing medal since Daniel Bekker won silver in the heavyweight division at the 1960 Games in Rome.

Prior to that, a total of 68 boxers have represented South Africa at the Olympics, winning six gold medals, four silver and nine bronze. The gold medallists are: Clarence Walker, Willie Smith, Laurie Stevens, Dave Carstens, Gerald Dreyer and George Hunter.

If it were not for the monster called apartheid, when black people could not compete at the Olympics, maybe many more medals would have been won.

South Africa returned to the Olympics in 1992 after the release of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners, ending the ban put in place in 1960 as part of the struggle to end apartheid.

South Africa's return to the Olympics, however, has been disappointing as not a single boxer has gone beyond the second round, let alone won a medal.

Only five South African boxers - Hawk Makepula, Phillip Ndou, Sybrand Botes, Jeffrey Mathebula and Daniel Venter - have reached the second round.

South Africa has selected nine men to fight in Morocco and three women to fight in China in the hope of qualifying for London.

The Morroco contingent includes: Lebogang Pilane (49kg), Ludumo Lamati (51kg), Ayabonga Sonjica (56kg), Sinethemba Bam (60kg), Thulani Mbenge (64kg), Siphiwe Lusizi (69kg), Hlahla Hobwana (75kg), Akane Puzi (91kg) and Paul Schaefer (+91kg).

Sonjica is the younger brother of junior featherweight boxer Thabo Sonjica.

The nine boxers are currently taking part in the International Amateur Boxing Association African Olympic qualifiers in Casablanca that started on Friday and will end on May 6.

The three women - Thobile Khumalo from KwaZulu-Natal (60kg), Anna du Plessis from Gauteng (51kg) and Claudia Heijns (75kg), also from Gauteng - will be in China from May 9 to 20 for their qualifiers.

Renowned amateur boxing trainer Andile Mofu is confident that not only will South Africa have a bigger team this time around (only one boxer competed in Beijing - Jackson Chauke), but that they will fare better.

"We have done our homework this time round, the first thing is to ensure that the majority of our boxers, if not all, qualify in Morocco and China for the Olympics."

"I have no doubt we will end the drought of medals," says Mofu. "It's about time boxing also came to the party and contributed to the success of Team South Africa at the Olympics.

"We have a solid team of men and women whom we took to Cuba to hone their skills under the watchful eye of some of the best trainers of amateur boxers in the world."

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