Creative juices empty, we recycle nicknames

Listening to the radio a couple of days ago, I heard ex-soccer pro Dan "Let Them Dance" Malesela make a brilliant point.

Malesela says the lack of passion on our soccer fields could, in part, be blamed on the dwindling culture of nicknames. He says when the crowd roars your name, you up your game.

So while we leave the Carlos Parreiras of this world to agonise about defence and attack formations, we the masses have the responsibility to spur the guys on, ala Aaaaaaace of old.

Pity, though, that our national creative juices are running dangerously low.

We keep on recycling the nicknames Ace, Pro, Killer, Chippa over and over and over again. We are so unimaginative you could go to Klipgat and find a team named Klipgat Orlando Pirates.

Surprised? Why would a serious Premiership side call itself The Brazilians? How in the heavens can you call a national (cricket) side the Proteas? What are we going to call little Sunday school girl guides if we name professional cricketers after flowers?

Dingaan Thobela was one of the best fighters we ever produced, but to call him The Rose is what our Model C generation would call yuk. Jeepers!

There was a golden era of imagination when we coined nicknames such as Go-Man-Go, Qhum' Bhatata, Close The Kitchen Door (goalie), Al Die Hoekies, Kaapse Dans, Bump Jive, Maria Maria and so forth.

People flocked to the stadiums in their thousands to see magic on the pitch and cheer the athletes on.

Let's be honest. Who wants to leave home to go and watch some Oupa Mohale or Mohau Tsotetsi?

Think, people, think.

It is very much the same in boxing. We had grand gladiators we called King Kong, Axe Killer, Tap Tap ...

It's all gone.

I got a signal the fanfare was coming to an end when a well-known boxer was interviewed on TV years back. He went by a name as unexciting as Jeremiah Mofokeng. I can't resist repeating the story.

The interviewer asked him to predict the outcome of his fight.

The lacklustre pugilist, dour as yesterday's soda water, mumbled into the microphone: "I don't know. I can beat him, he can beat me, or it could be a draw. This is a game."

Quite intelligent, you punch- drunk little palooka you.

For goodness sake, who in their right mind leaves home (or the local tavern) to go watch a dumbo like that?

Rewind to the era of The Lip, The Greatest, the one and only Muhammad Ali. Punch for punch he can't have been the best that boxing has seen, but he made himself an icon by creating excitement around his fights: "I will whup him real bad ... He will be out in eight ... He's got a peanut head ... I'm gonna chop his head off ... He's an ugly bear ... I am the prettiest."

Now, you want to leave home and see that kind of boxer.

Not a mina-angazi boxer, damn it!