Rising prospect has big plans after jail time

Former gangster Kunert joins Nathan's stable

Abdul-Aziz Kunert (gold and black shorts) vs Ilunga Masala (white and black shorts).
Abdul-Aziz Kunert (gold and black shorts) vs Ilunga Masala (white and black shorts).
Image: Dan Edwards/Gallo Images

Boxing's hot prospect, 26-year-old Abdul-Aziz Kunert, whose life of gangsterism landed him in jail for murder in 2014, is reaching for the stars.

The Capetonian has joined the ever-expanding and successful HotBox Boxing Gym of celebrated trainer Colin “Nomakanjani” Nathan in Balfour Park, north of Johannesburg. 

“Yes sir, I have joined Colin Nathan,” confirmed respectful Kunert, whose first trainer in the pro ranks was Commando Kalekuzi before the boxer teamed up with veteran trainer Emille Brice.

“I am excited about moving to Johannesburg. I know it is for the best of my career. I intend to win the SA title and go on the world platform and be one of the country’s world champions. I really want to be a role model to the youngsters and especially knowing where I come from and where I am going.

“I believe Colin is the right person to bring me to realisation of my dreams. I know he is the right person to take me where I want to go as a fighter,” said Kunert, who will leave his wife and their two-year-old son behind in Cape Town. 

Nathan’s accomplishments include helping Hekkie Budler to win The Ring Magazine belt in 2018. The last SA fighter to achieve that feat was Vic Toweel in 1950.

“Abdul is a good kid with a compelling story and I have a very soft spot for him,” Nathan said. “He is working hard to turn his life around and become an outstanding role model. I am actually over the moon to be joined by Abdul. I have seen him fight, and that was when he knocked out Mfusi Maxhayi in two rounds and I was impressed. He is coming up next week. I first want him to settle in, get used to the new environment and get going with his career.”

Kunert, a former member of the 28s gang who is from Brooklyn in Cape Town, was serving a 12-year sentence for murder at Victor Verster prison when he was introduced to boxing by former professional boxer Sandile Hoho, who was also serving a jail term and trained boxers at the prison.

Brice organised a tournament at the prison in 2014.

“I won the tournament,” he said with pride.

Kunert was released on parole in 2017 for good behaviour, having served a quarter of his jail term, and has never looked back. The hard puncher – who remains unbeaten after 12 fights – is rated No 2 for the vacant SA featherweight title.

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