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Fighting Toweels - a family synonymous with boxing

By Bongani Magasela | 2017-05-17 10:37:34.0

Toweel, a Lebanese name, is synonymous with boxing in South Africa.

The boxing bug actually bit the family way back in 1909 when Alan Toweel's father, Mike "Papa" Toweel, began training as an amateur boxer on his arrival in South Africa from Lebanon that year.

Mike was in charge of Team SA at the 1948 London Olympics. He had previously been nominated to be in charge of the 1924 SA Olympic team but could not go to Paris because his mother hated boxing.

Of the family's six sons: Jimmy won the SA lightweight title; Vic won the SA bantamweight, featherweight and the British Empire belts; Maurice was a matchmaker, manager and promoter; Willie won the SA bantam, feather and light, and welterweight titles.

Frazer won the East Rand, Transvaal and SA junior championships. Alan also had pro fights under his belt but he retired because of asthma and later became a trainer.

Alan's son, Alan Junior, also boxed as an amateur and later joined his father.

But the death of his father in 1995 saw Junior quit the sport.

He then got a plum job with the SA Revenue Service where he worked as enforcement centre, audit, criminal investigation and debt manager for 24 years. Junior quit in 2011 to pursue his passion of training fighters. He opened his Shadow of Legends Gym at the back of his house in Linden, Johannesburg. Junior also conducts an hour-and-a-half boxing classes for young children. His son, Alan III, is part of the programme.

"If he wants to box professionally, I will let him box," said Junior Toweel, who is keeping the name going. His wife Marisa, sisters Marianna and Tracy are part of the Supreme Boxing Promotion.