BOXING star Moruti Mthalane's story is a typical rags-to-riches tale.
He grew up in Lindelani, an informal settlement outside Durban, and was introduced to the pugilistic sport in 1985 by his father Michael, who died two years later. Moruti moved to Gauteng in 2001, where he has flourished under trainer Nick Durandt. The multiple champion, rated among the best in the world, went a few rounds with Sowetan.
Q: Did your father box?
A: No, but he loved the sport dearly.
Q: How best can you describe Nick?
A: He is a hard man who wants results. He becomes your friend if you do things right. A very good trainer, a wonderful motivator and a great manager.
Q: How many fights did you have under him and what are your achievements?
A: I had 21 fights - 19 wins against two losses. I won the SA, WBC Continental and the IBF flyweight belts under him.
Q: Do your achievements match your finances?
A: I only began making money after winning the SA title in 2006. Things became better when I won the IBF belt in November last year. I live a comfortable life.
Q: Are your married?
Q: Do you have children?
A: Not yet.
Q: Did you ever think you would make a living as a boxer?
A: Not at all. It was all about enjoyment until I won the SA title. That is when I realised that I could make a living through this sport if I gave my life to it.
Q: How does it feel being a world champion from an informal settlement?
A: It feels great because people at home support me. They are proud to have their first-ever world champion in our area.
Q: What is Lindelani known for apart from you?
A: Political violence.
Q: How far did you go with school?
A: I'm a matriculant.
Q: You seem shy, what were you like at school?
A: I was fine. I am not shy but reserved, especially when around people I don't know that much about.
Q: Who were your toughest opponents?
A: Nonito Donaire and Julio Miranda.
Q: How was Nkqubela Gwazela, the man who spoiled your undefeated record in 2004?
A: The first two rounds were tough but I began enjoying myself from round three, though I believe the fight should not have been stopped in round 11. Gwazela tested positive for banned substances and was stripped of the national belt, which I later won in 2006.
Q: Who were your sporting heroes growing up?
A: Jacob Matlala and Dingaan Thobela.
Q: Who do you regard as the greatest fighter ever in the country?
A: Jacob Matlala. He was short but he could use his height to his advantage.
Q: Favourite music and musician?
A: Maskandi, Mgqumeni.
Q: Who is your favourite actor?
A: Only Joe Mafela.
Q: Person most admired?
A: Nelson Mandela.
Q: What would you like to say to other fighters who are keen to follow in your footsteps?
A: Dedication, discipline and stay healthy.
Q: What will it take for a boxer to dethrone you?
A: He must have three hands.