Veteran Eastern Cape boxer Ali "Rush Hour" Funeka retires from boxing

09 May 2019 - 13:32
By Bongani Magasela
Ali Funeka (green and white truncks) during the World Boxing Federation Light Welterweight title bout between Ali Funeka and Zolani Marali at Monte Casino on November 19, 2011 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Lee Warren / Gallo Images Ali Funeka (green and white truncks) during the World Boxing Federation Light Welterweight title bout between Ali Funeka and Zolani Marali at Monte Casino on November 19, 2011 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Veteran Eastern Cape boxer Ali "Rush Hour" Funeka has finally retired from boxing.

The 41-year-old former SA junior lightweight‚ WBC International lightweight‚ WBF junior welterweight‚ IBO and WBO Africa welterweight titlist confirmed on social media that he's walking away from the sport.

That was after he suffered a short-route stoppage to four-fight novice Abass Barou in Germany last week.

That loss was Funeka's 11th against 40 wins with 32 knockouts and three draws.

Funeka from Mdantsane had been in the professional fight game for 24 years.

In a very long statement‚ he wrote:

"I turned pro in 1995 and I've been at it ever since. Had my fair share of highs and lows. I have achieved what God wanted me to achieve.

"At times I have won convincingly but judges saw it otherwise. Sometimes lost fair and square."

Funeka changed his tone and seemed to suggest that the decision was not entirely his.

"For a while now the ones in power have had a problem with me‚" he said.

"I cannot remember the last time I went into a fight with a peaceful mind‚ focused in fight mode.

"Ibakhona nje imfazwe endikuyo (there will be some war) before the actual fight‚" he said‚ putting some of the blame on Boxing SA's sanctioning committee.

"If it is not the CAT scan it is the MRI‚ unfortunately for me all this is required last minute after I have submitted my blood test and everything else in time."

Funeka said that is why in July 2019 he left to fight outside South Africa without a clearance from Boxing SA.

"Preparing for a fight is no longer exciting. Yitorture (it's torture)‚" he wrote.

"Hleli umincile (you are always worried) - the worry of wondering will you get this clearance/not. What else will they want to say?

He said after he defeated newcomer Uyanda Nogogo in March‚ he got an opportunity to fight in Germany.

"I thought (as) someone coming from a win‚ this would be much easier. It started all over again. 'we need this‚ that‚ CAT Scan' last minute‚" he said.

Indeed BSA's medical team did make those demands which is the procedure for any boxer before they fly out of the country‚ and it is also done for their own welfare.

"Haibo‚ njani ndisuka kuwin nje nindiyekile ndalwa (how because I have just won a fight and you did not ask for all this in March‚" he wrote.

"Ndagqiba enhliziyweni uba kwanele (I concluded that it is enough. I had endured this torture for so long. Ezinye inzinto (other things) are not worth your time and energy.

"I've come to realise that if you don't belong to a certain team uzawusokola (you will struggle).

"I have never had problems with losing‚ I always bounced back.

"No matter how I lost.

"In my entire career after losing I have never thought of retirement because I have always had a great support system. I just feel I'm not treated fairly.

"And I'm honestly tired of it - kudala ndinyamezele (I have been silent for a long).

On the other side‚ he wrote; "Utata Ali ukhulile torho (father Ali has grown up) akekho (he's no longer) as fast (or) strong.

"The famous wobbling legs also azindisi (not helping). Babethiwe ke abantu lemilenze ijaiva njalo (People have been beaten with those wobbly legs)‚" he said.

"Through boxing I have managed to provide for my family; to have a home; ibicycle (a bicycle).

"I will forever be grateful. I made sure I always saved up a bit so that one one day when I find myself in such a situation where (boxing) no longer gives me the thrill and excitement‚ I just bow out.

"Lomini ifikile (that day has come)‚ it's time to break free. I am bowing out. Thank you for constructive criticism; for love."

The truth of the matter is Funeka's best days are behind him.

Funeka‚ like many other boxers around the world‚ has had a difficult time acknowledging the fact that his skills have deteriorated and it's time to call time on his career.

Think back to Funeka's perilous state against Tsiko Mulovhedzi when he was blown away inside the scheduled 12 rounds in 2015.

The man was hospitalized after that bout and shockingly‚ he claimed that Mulovhedzi from Limpopo had used muthi.

The bottom line is the long-term effects of injuries in the ring can be devastating and things become decidedly trickier when a boxer overstays his welcome.

Walk away Funeka‚ you've already made your mark and continuing to loiter around is not worth it.