Fernandes does about-turn, back to produce champions

Isaac Hlatswayo and his then trainer Manny Fernandes.
Isaac Hlatswayo and his then trainer Manny Fernandes.
Image: Mohau Mofokeng

When Irvin Khoza introduced the slogan "Once a Pirate, always a Pirate", the Orlando Pirates chairman did not know that this phrase would go as far as rubbing off on the boxing fraternity.

Khoza's expression was borrowed by Manny Fernandes yesterday when he revealed that he has gone back to doing what he loved most - train fighters.

"Once a trainer, always a trainer," said the man who can best be described as a boxing tutor par-excellence.

Fernandes had, for few years, stopped honing the skills of fighters and promoted fighters under his BRD Promotion, which he jointly ran with his wife Sonja.

Fernandes said his former boxer, retired former South African champion Oscar "Golden Boy" Chauke, will take over and actually work with Sonja.

When Fernandes stopped training boxers, his son Richard - a retired professional boxer - took over but you could tell that Fernandes's magical touch was missing.

Fernandes did a good job as a promoter by giving young fighters action.

But in his heyday as a trainer, he turned ordinary boxers including Isaac "Angel" Hlatshwayo to be world beaters.

Hlatshwayo became IBO's two weight champion, holding the lightweight and welterweight belts before he captured the IBF belt under Nick Durandt.

Fernandes - who was Durandt's biggest competitor - said: "I am back as a trainer and I have just been joined by Joshua Studdard."

Fernandes's old gym was at Wembley Arena but he is now housed at Turffontein Racecourse, which has opened doors to boxing promoters including Unleashed Combat Sport of Shereen Hunter.

Fernandes said one of his boxers is SA junior featherweight female champion Matshidiso Mokebisi from the Free State.

"There are lots of bigger things coming up ... just watch the space," he warned.

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