Municipality honours top boxing referee Sylvia Mokaila

"Success is no accident; it is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do."

That is one of the brainy quotes from Brazilian retired professional footballer Edson Arantes Dos Nascimento - popularly known as Pelé.

This fits like a glove to the accomplishments of Sylvia Mokaila - the woman from Lomanyaneng village in Mahikeng, North West. The 46-year-old Mokaila has become a symbol of success for women in the field of boxing, and this has not come easy, but instead through perseverance, dedication and purpose.

She started officiating in the amateur ranks in 1996. Her skills were honed by late veteran boxing administrators Ken Ramaboa and Stanley Sono as well as Norman Sekgapane (former prof boxers).

Mokaila graduated to the top of the professional stage in 1999 after attending a course at the Pretoria High Performance Centre under the tutorship of internationally acclaimed referee Stanley Christodoulou.

Today, Mokaila is one of the country's finest ring officials.

She has handled numerous international contests in countries such as Mexico, the US, Germany, Namibia, Ghana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mokaila distinguished herself by being honoured as Best Female Ring Official during Boxing SA's awards in Durban in 2017.

She made history in the whole continent this year when the IBO appointed her as fight supervisor when Rowan Campbell and Patrick Mukala fought for the vacant IBO Africa super middleweight belt at Emperors Palace in August - thanks to veteran boxing promoters Rodney Berman and Jeff Ellis, who convinced US-based IBO president Ed Levine to make that appointment.

This happened during the month when SA commemorates Women's Month, in honour of the August 9 1956 march by almost 20,000 women to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against the extension of apartheid pass laws to women.

Last Thursday, Mokaila, who is ploughing back to her community by assisting in the honing of aspirant boxers' skills - physically and mentally - was honoured for her contribution and also putting her municipality and province on the map. The Mahikeng local municipality did the honours in a gala dinner at Mmabatho Civic Centre.

"I feel honoured, most especially because my municipality is going to assist with the development of boxing, especially with clubs that have no equipment," she said.

"They committed to making sure that they help them with equipment. This makes me very proud because this enables me to plough back into the community I come from."

Mokaila currently works for the department of arts, culture, sport and recreation.

"My dream - regarding my community - is to see gymnasiums built in Bojanala, Dr Kenneth Kaunda, Dr Ruth Mompati and Ngaka Modiri Molema districts. There are no gyms there. People there love boxing. Females Bukiwe Nonina (WBF bantamweight champion) and Ndobayini Kolosa (current SA lightweight titleholder) come from Dr Kaunda district," said Mokaila. "Those boxers have since relocated to Johannesburg due to lack of facilities and activity there."

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