Ledwaba adapts to life as a trainer

LEHLOHONOLO Ledwaba says training up-and-coming fighters has enabled him to deal with the pain of retiring prematurely as a professional boxer.

LEHLOHONOLO Ledwaba says training up-and-coming fighters has enabled him to deal with the pain of retiring prematurely as a professional boxer.

This former Transvaal and WBU bantamweight, SA and IBF super bantamweight, and WBU and WBA Pan African super featherweight titleholder retired in 2006.

Ledwaba had been a fighter for almost 17 years. His retirement was caused by a detached retina in one of his eyes. He was operated on but unfortunately the eye did not heal completely. In July 2007 he was replaced by Edward Mpofu, when he was declared medically unfit for a fight with Malcolm "The Stone" Klassen, a Ledwaba admirer.

Ledwaba said he realised the severity of the impairment only when he fought Ghanaian Maxwell Ahuku on November 24, 2006.

"I could not see clearly from round four. I tried to fight on but I realised that I could no longer judge distance, so I retired in round nine," said the soft-spoken fighter, who was born in Moletsane.

"The problem started when I fought Spend Abazi in Denmark in 2004.

"It was tough to retire but I have since taken it as part of my life."

Ledwaba, whose first name means luck, was fortunate enough to be offered a job training fighters in Bloemfontein by Free State boxing promoter Blacky Seoe.

"I was still not sure what to do but Bra Blacky was a godsend. He made me a good offer. He pays me a monthly salary and I'm happy," said Ledwaba, who left his two children and his plush home in Mondeor for Bloemfontein.

He is assisted by Eric Manganyi, who was an assistant to Gauteng trainer Rob MacLeod.

"We will produce a champion or two in a very short space of time. We have willing and talented fighters including Bongani Dlamini and Tshepang Mohale.

"Boxing is my blood so I train with my fighters. Watch this space," warned the former fighter whose nickname was inspired by Panamanian boxing legend Roberto "Hands of Stone" Duran.

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