The community service associated with struggle icon Nelson Mandela touched down at Simnikiwe High School in NU7 Mdantsane where boxers swapped gloves for paint rollers.
The programme involves a boxing tournament – Mandela Boxing Day – organised by Xaba Promotions and Events taking place at the International Convention Centre on Friday. With the exception of Cape Town-based Mzuvukile Magwaca and Colombian boxer Luis Melendez who will face Ludumo Lamati for the IBF intercontinental junior-featherweight crown, all the boxers were present at the event which also doubled as the tournament’s pre-medical.
Even Johannesburg-based Gideon Buthelezi, who will defend his IBO junior-bantamweight belt against Filipino RyanPanteras, briefly did his bit to finish up painting of the school.
Amid pupils’ screams, boxers also signed autographs and posed for photographs before stripping down to have their weights checked.
However, the crowd erupted when two Mthatha boxers Siphamandla Baleni and Bangile Nyangani, underwent the medical check-up.
The pair will do battle in a high- stakes bout for the SA mini-flyweight title held by Baleni who is the younger challenger’s former gymmate.
A multiple gold medal winner at the national amateur championships, Nyangani dispelled the perception he has been thrown into the deep end by being matched up with the more experienced champion, who has fought 13 times with a single loss and a draw.
At just 23 years old, the Mthetho Dumezweni-trained boxer was confident he would beat Azinga Fuzile’s record by winning a national title in his fifth professional bout, even though he has yet to tackle an eight-rounder, let alone the 12 rounds he will be contesting against Baleni. “I am not worried at all by what people are saying,” he said.
“Yes Baleni has fought more bouts than me and he is the more seasoned as well, but that is where it ends. Skills-wise I believe I have the upperhand and people will be shocked by what will transpire in the ring.” Baleni, who is two years older, will be vying for the second defence of the crown. He was still in disbelief that Nyangani had dared challenge him.
“When I was informed of this fight I dismissed it as a prank,” he said.
“But now my dismay has been replaced by disbelief because I am not sure whether the trainers of this boy are behind this. I mean I cannot fathom this boy challenging me because he knows me. I once trained with him but he was still young and I guessed he looked up to me.
“But now to hear that he will actually try to take my title is laughable to say the least.”
The tournament also features bouts, involving amateur starts Uyanda Nogogo and Sikho Nqothole.
XPE boss Ayanda Matiti has already promised Buthelezi, Lamati, Nogogo and Nqothole US bouts in September if they win on Friday.
All the boxers were given a clean bill of health and declared ready for the final weigh-in which will be held at the tournament venue tomorrow.