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.