SIMPHIWE Nongqayi defied all odds when he won the IBF junior bantamweight title on a unanimous points decision against Jorge "Travieso" Arce at the Plaza de Toros in Cancun, Mexico, on Tuesday night.
The "Golden Master" from Border Post in Eastern Cape achieved the feat despite having spent some time in police cells a few days before the contest.
Nongqayi and his esteemed mentor, Nick Durandt, spent seven hours in police cells in Germany last Wednesday while in transit after they could not produce visas.
They were eventually released after the German authorities realised that they were in that country for a connecting flight to Mexico.
They also spent four days travelling - flying from Germany to Brazil - before eventually reaching Mexico where Nongqayi vanquished that country's idol.
Nongqayi, who vacated the WBF belt last year because he wanted to pursue the IBF route, did not defeat Arce - the former three-time world champion - by chance, but with convincingly.
All three judges scored the fight in his favour - he a dark horse - and that included Mexican official Alfredo Polanco, whose card read 116-112, while Robert Gonzales from the United States and South Africa's Wally Snowball both scored the fight 117-112.
Nongqayi, who earned the right to fight for the IBF belt in February after defeating Arce's younger brother Francisco on points, is still to taste defeat after 16 fights (six KOs).
Arce, a former WBO and WBC light flyweight and WBC flyweight champion who defeated top fighters such as Hussein Hussein and Hawk Makepula, suffered his sixth defeat in 52 wins (40 KOs).
Another local fighter who went through similar trials and tribulations is Tshifhiwa "Atomic Spider" Munyai.
He spent a night in jail in England in 2006 because of a visa problem, but went on to destroy Martin Power, that country's prospect, in nine rounds for the Commonwealth bantamweight belt.
Nongqayi, 36, is undoubtedly a true warrior in his own right.
An average fighter would have lost confidence after going through what Nongqayi endured.
Nick Durandt must be credited for ensuring that the fighter was in superb condition - Nongqayi was able to make the weight and still go 12 fiercely contested rounds.