I recently announced a storytelling project I’m working on called My Favorite Joburg People. I chose four people in Joburg, each of whom has an amazing story to tell, and interviewed them and shot their portraits. I’ll be presenting the stories and portraits at an upcoming event called Translating Joburg – Storytellers, and also publishing them on my blog. This is the second of the four stories. These stories are longer than my normal blog posts. James Ike James on the street near his home in Yeoville, May 2016. I’ve played a lot of sports and I’ve had a lot of coaches. I know what a great coach is made of. Great coaches motivate us without crushing our spirits. Great coaches push us to go farther than we can go alone. Great coaches have an ego; they want us to achieve so that they can achieve themselves. Great coaches want to be the best and they want the best for their athletes. Great coaches make us feel like no matter how good we are, that we can always be better. And we do get better, because we want to make our coaches proud. James Ike is a great coach. In 2012 I started training at […]
I took a quick photowalk through Hillbrow and Yeoville this morning with my friend Ruth and some guys from the Hillbrow Boxing Club, including my boxing coach George Khosi. I’m saving most of the photos I took for a project that I’ll be revealing soon. But I took a few special shots for this post. When Ruth and I arrived at the gym at 6:30 a.m., here’s what we found: Dozens of members of the African Baptist Apostolic Church, dancing and singing and stomping rhythmically on the floor. George occasionally lets out the gym to various congregations from this church; they arrive on Saturday evening and pray all night. (We arrived just before they finished.) What an amazing surprise — I find these services incredibly beautiful and I’m grateful to the congregation for allowing us to take photos. The Hillbrow Tower and a perfect pigeon in flight. We walked to Yeoville Ridge, one of my favorite spots in Joburg. Pictured here: Ponte City and George Khosi, two of this city’s great icons. Hillbrow in all its glory, shot from Yeoville Ridge. I’ve been driving past this shop, which is on Claim Street near the corner of Esselen Street in Hillbrow, for years. I have always wanted […]
My name is Tiger and I am a happy cat in Hillbrow. Hillbrow isn’t an easy place to live, especially for cats. But I’m a survivor. When I was a baby, a man found me and took me to live in the basement at the Hillbrow Boxing Club. I didn’t like it much at first. It’s noisy at the Hillbrow Boxing Club and some of the humans there teased me when I came. But George, the man in charge at the Hillbrow Boxing Club, loved me from the start. He gave me food and let me sleep in his room. I started to love my new home. Eventually, when I was big enough to run up the stairs, I started to hang around outside near the boxing ring. I ran around and played with people and learned to hunt mice. George named me Tiger and he seemed to think I was a boy. How rude! I am obviously a lady. This is me with George, my human. A few months after I moved in with George, I gave birth to three babies. I don’t know how this happened because I think I was still a baby myself. But anyway, I had the […]
On Tuesday evening I received this text message from George Khosi, coach of the Hillbrow Boxing Club: there is an accident at the gym the ring is damaged by a tax coach It took me a while to figure out that “tax” meant “taxi”. When I arrived at the gym the next day, it all became clear. George and his ring. I nearly cried when I saw this.
UPDATE: Zulu Girl, whose real name was Phindile Mwelase, died tragically of a brain injury after being knocked out during a fight in October 2014. She was 31 years old. Rest in peace, Zulu Girl. I hardly knew you but I’m very sad that you’re gone. Part 3 in a series about professional female boxing. Read Part 1 and Part 2. If you read the first two entries in this sequence, then you already know that I think girl boxers kick ass. I hope you will bear with me as I show you one last set of ass-kicking girl boxing photos. Two of the fighters who competed in last weekend’s professional women’s boxing tournament — Lillian “Lily” Molala and Phindile “Zulu Girl” Mwelase — are members of the Hillbrow Boxing Club. I went to the tournament to cheer them on. Lily and Zulu Girl did not disappoint.
Part 2 in a series about professional female boxing. Read Part 1 and Part 3. In my previous post, I showed you photos from the early fights of last weekend’s “Power to the Women” professional boxing tournament. Those first few fights were entertaining, but they paled in comparison with what was to come. This tournament included two “title fights” — fights in which one fighter was the current South African champion in her weight class, and the other fighter was challenging her for that title. The first of the two title fights was between Gabisile Tshabalala, the current South African junior featherweight champion, and her challenger, Nomvelo Mgcaba. When Gabisile came dancing into the ring to a tune by Zahara, with an entourage of trainers dancing around her, I knew this would be interesting. The crowd in the gym had suddenly swelled. It was loud.
Part 1 in a series about professional female boxing. Read Part 2 and Part 3. I knew I would write a blog post about women this weekend. Initially I planned to attend yesterday’s Slutwalk Johannesburg and write about that. The Slutwalk would have made a great photo-op, as well as a newsworthy blog post after U.S. Senator Todd Akin’s idiotic and misogynistic remarks about “legitimate rape” earlier in the week. But I got off to a slow start and didn’t make the Slutwalk. Luckily I had a second chance to celebrate female awesomeness yesterday. In the afternoon I journeyed to the Brakpan Indoor Sports Centre for the “Power to the Women” professional boxing tournament.
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.
I went to another boxing tournament last weekend. This blog has been flooded with boxing posts lately and some of you may be tiring of all the bloodsport. But I can’t get enough. The training, the fans, the camaraderie, the coaches…Boxing is a major part of my life now. As James, one of George’s trainers at the Hillbrow Boxing Club, told me recently: “You have boxing in you.” I think he’s right. Me and George, my coach, at the Hillbrow Boxing Club a few weeks ago. (Photo: Tertia Smit)
Second in a two-part series. Read Part 1. “Hi champ i am going to have tournament on 5 may. coach” George Khosi, trainer at the Hillbrow Boxing Club, sent this SMS to my friend Anita and me a few weeks ago. I wasn’t sure what he meant so I ignored the message. Anita, on the other hand, tapped a quick response: “Does that mean I’m fighting?”
First in a two-part series. Read Part 2. Yesterday there was a tournament at the Hillbrow Boxing Club. It was my first time watching a live boxing competition. Young kids competed, as well as youth and adults. There were eight three-round bouts. Seven of the fights were male fights and one was a female fight. One of Saturday’s youngest competitors.