Mbalula steps in to fix dilapidated gym
MINISTER of Sport Fikile "Mr Action" Mbalula will begin to equip the dilapidated Sisonke Boxing Academy at NU8 in Mdantsane tomorrow.
This gym, owned by the Veteran Boxers Association (VBA), last month produced South Africa's first female world champion boxer, Noni "She Bee Stingin" Tenge.
Tenge won the IBF welterweight title when she stopped Smith in the fourth round at Carnival City, Brakpan.
A few weeks ago Mbalula, who graced the ringside in Brakpan, sent a team from his office to monitor the conditions at the gym, which is in an old building that used to sell mass-produced sorghum beer. After receiving the report Mbalula is taking action. The building was damaged in the 1980s during protests against the toxic beer product. A few years later the VBA applied to the Lottery to renovate a part of the structure for boxing.
Former professional fighters like Boy Boy Mpulampula and Welcome Mtyongwe use the venue to teach boxers from around East London the basics of the fistic sport. VBA chairperson advocate Mava Malla, whose skills were honed by Mpulampula during his heyday as a fighter, said they were happy that Mbalula was doing something to renovate the gym, which has no roof.
"All our champions come from very poor gyms but the minister is trying to change things," said Malla, a former CEO of the defunct South African National Boxing Control Commission.
"The minister is challenging the province to look after its sports people, especially boxers, who must be kept here at home in East London to prevent them from relocating to cities like Johannesburg."
Boxing SA's management committee chairperson Andile Sdinile said Mbalula was using Tenge as a symbol of success. "He is saying other stakeholders must assist in producing more Tenges," Sdinile said.
Provincial MEC for sport Xoliswa Tom and Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kiviet honoured Tenge.
Sadly Branco Milenkovic, who presented the historic tournament without TV coverage, has been forgotten.