Ballroom Boxing

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.

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  • Reply jackie hulme June 14, 2012 at 7:19 pm

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

    • Reply 2summers June 14, 2012 at 7:39 pm

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

  • Reply Kathryn McCullough June 14, 2012 at 11:38 pm

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

    • Reply 2summers June 15, 2012 at 6:35 pm

      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.

  • Reply truenorthfilmproductions June 15, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    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.

    • Reply 2summers June 15, 2012 at 6:32 pm

      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.

  • Reply Nina Neubauer June 17, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    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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