BOXING SA's Baby Champs will never be the same again.
BSA acting chief executive Loyiso Mtya, who was instrumental when this programme started in 2006, announced yesterday that ANC Youth League president Julius Malema would be part of the contest this year.
Top boxing administrators Abram Khambule and Archie Nyingwa revealed that Malema was part of the 34 aspirant fighters who graduated from sparring sessions at Harold Volbrecht's gym in the south of Johannesburg on Saturday last weekend.
"I could not believe my ears when they told me late in the day as I was in East London for the IBF fight between newly crowned champion Nkosinathi Joyi and Raul Garcia that Malema showed up with his contingent and requested to be allowed to spar," Mtya said.
"They said Damien Durandt (Nick Durandt's son) was in Malema's corner. He passed with flying colours, they told me."
Malema yesterday confirmed that he boxed in Seshego while still growing up. "Boxing has always been in my blood. I used to be a member of the Seshego Boxing Club. I am in the process of reviving the club. We have an array of talented boxers in Limpopo.
"I won't box for a long time since politics have taken over my whole life, but I just want to show people the other side of me," Malema said.
He said his trainer, Nick Durandt, could not be in his corner because his other charges, Michael Schultz and Leslie Sekotswe fought in under card fights of the Joyi-Garcia fight on Saturday night.
"Julius knows his way around the ring, so I assigned Damien to man his corner," said the esteemed mentor. "People are going to be surprised by what Julius can do in the ring."
Mtya said Malema was granted a licence on Monday after passing all medical tests.