Packing the punch

A TRAUMATIC incident shaped,  Sandra Leigh Almeida, 36, of Gonubie into South Africa’s first professional woman boxer and the first white woman to win a title fight.

“My sister and I were once held at gunpoint and almost raped.

“We managed to escape our attackers and my sister was very traumatised by the incident and pushed me to join her in a self-defence gym.

Sarah Leigh Almeida

“I went along just to humour her as I was working a lot and found it to be a waste of time and money,” she explained.

She said that they found a gym and a man by the name of Shane Fourie who agreed to let them join their kickboxing classes in Pietermaritzburg.

“I loved it so much, I couldn’t wait to go back.

“He asked me if I would be interested in the extra classes for sparring, I didn’t even know what sparring was but I just wanted to wear those boxing gloves.

“That’s where my love for boxing stemmed from.” , in those classes,” she said.

Almeida counts flying to Zambia to fight for two world titles and winning the South Africa light welterweight title twice as some of the highlights of her career.

“Those memories linger in my mind. There were so many challenges along the way, more from a personal point.

“Trying to juggle being a mother and working to support myself as we struggled to get sponsors and then  staying keeping focused in the gym.

“IThere were lots of tears along the way, it was really blood, sweat and tears along the way,” she said.

She said women boxers are getting better as they go along and are now given the freedom to express themselves in the ring.

“For me, personally, the greatest challenge about being a female boxer was facing all the people who didn’t have anything nice to say about women’s boxing.

“A lot of Many other women say things like their menstrual periods affect their boxing. I can’t relate to with this at all. “Like any sportswomen, we do what we  came out there to do – so all physical challenges are to me just minor setbacks and have never influenced my game,” she said.

Almeida said her advice to other women boxers in a male-dominated sport is to not focus on the men but on the women you are going to battle with in the ring.

“Ultimately, it is not the man we are going to be fighting with.Stay Keep focused on perfecting your skills. We don’t change things by our words but our actions and by standing firmly behind the things we believe in,” she said.

“In my case, I will always love boxing till the day I take my last breath!”

Trainer, Mmanager and Ppromoter Vido Madikane said what sets Almeida’s dedication to training is what sets her  apart from her counterparts. is her dedication to her training.

“We have big plans for Sandra and new developments that are coming up and will be announcing ed new developments soon.” he said.





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