Ballroom Boxing

by | Jun 14, 2012 | Boxing, Johannesburg | 8 comments

Last week I went to my first-ever professional boxing match, in a ballroom at the ritzy Sandton Convention Centre. The evening included six fights with boxers from around South Africa.

The ring was set up in the center of a ballroom, surrounded by well-heeled spectators who ate a fancy dinner while watching the fights. I — along with the rest of the Hillbrow Boxing Club crew — hung out at the back in the standing-room only section. The event was named “Rumble on the Rock: A Tribute to Nelson Mandela”. We weren’t on a rock though, and Madiba was nowhere to be found.

This photo was an accident but I like it.

One of George’s boxers — Sandile “The Pricipal” Khumalo — fought his 17th bout at the Rumble on the Rock. I’m very fond of Sandile — he’s always ready with a smile and joke. I drove him to his official weigh-in the day before the fight, where he introduced me to everyone as his wife. In your dreams, Sandile.

 Sandile stuffs his face after his weigh-in, the day before the fight. Boxers have to starve themselves for days before weigh-in, to drop down to their official weight class. Then they can eat as much as they want between the weigh-in and the actual fight.

Sandile before the fight. His real name is Sibusiso. Those of you who know Sandile have probably noticed that he shaved off his dreadlocks. I think he did it to lose weight.

I managed a few decent photos of Sandile’s fight.

Sandile’s (left) and his opponent, Prince. I never got Prince’s last name, but he was undefeated and ranked higher than Sandile. Sandile entered the fight with a record of 10-6.



That’s Coach George in the foreground. Can you see the intensity emanating from the back of his head?

Sandile didn’t win, but he didn’t lose either. His fight was called a draw — kind of disappointing but better than a loss, in my opinion.

This sums up Sandile’s feelings about fighting to a draw.

Sandile didn’t lose his smile for long though.

Post-fight hi-jinx. The guy in black is Phillip N’dou, a quasi-famous South African boxer. He once fought against Floyd Mayweather. He’s retired now, and apparently makes a living modeling stylish furry shirts. Phillip was also wearing skin-tight pants and thigh-high black boots. 

I love boxing.

Speaking of boxing, check out this great article about George and his gym in today’s Star newspaper.


  1. jackie hulme

    wow …. wow….. great bunch of guys …. Sandile looks different with his new hair style

    • 2summers

      I know, I didn’t even recognize him at first! I’m sure he’ll grow them back now.

  2. Kathryn McCullough

    I especially love the oxymoronic quality of your title here. And who knew the details about weigh-in? That’s fascinating.

    • 2summers

      I didn’t know about the weigh-in thing before either. I always knew about it for wrestling but not boxing. It’s a strange phenomenon.

  3. truenorthfilmproductions

    Great post! I have spent time documenting the boxing world in Canada. Not an easy life, I know all about the starvation days prior to mounting the weight scales, and I have seen first hand what you speak of in your posting. Its tough to witness a fight to a draw, but even worse to witness a friend lose his belt. Hopefully sandile has more luck in the ring in the future! I have been to South Africa, never been to a fight there, but South Africa is an amazing place.

    • 2summers

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Yep, boxing can be brutal! Hope you can make it to a fight the next time you’re in SA.

  4. Nina Neubauer

    Great article in the Star too. Thanks for sharing all this and being a part of the story.
    Hope I can come with you to the gym sometime and meet George as well.


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