Ex-Arrows man enjoys transition from football to boxing

Left-handed Khumalo already making strides in fistic sport

Former professional footballer Phikelelani Khumalo, right, and Thando Mali in action at Emperors palace where Khumalo won by a KO in round two.
Former professional footballer Phikelelani Khumalo, right, and Thando Mali in action at Emperors palace where Khumalo won by a KO in round two.
Image: James B Gradidge

Phikelelani Khumalo has quit football, the sport where remuneration is not determined by an appearance, and joined the fisticuffs sport.

The former striker for Golden Arrows and Maritzburg United in the MultiChoice Diski Challenge made an immediate impact in boxing since fighting his first professional match in December last year.

The left-hander - from Mthwalume, south of Durban - has his fighting knacks polished in Edenvale, Ekurhuleni, by successful yet unheralded trainer Vusi Mtolo.

He said the transition from football to boxing had been smooth. “I knew that God does not make mistakes. It’s been fun, at the same time shocking. Sometimes I don’t believe that I have been able to adjust in such a small space of time. I now believe that anything in life is possible only if you believe in yourself and focus on what you want to do.”

Khumalo remains undefeated after four fights. He stopped Lukhangela Jamjam in the third round of what was his first pro fight. Khumalo followed up with a points decision against Chris Gouws on June 19 at Emperors Palace, where he also violently knocked out Thando Mali in the second round last month.

“Had I stayed in football I would probably be very unhappy, so I decided to quit and focus on boxing,” he explained. “I began training as a boxer while still playing football. I had one fight in the amateurs. I immediately felt I am right in the sport,” he said, adding that the first trainer he joined specialised on fitness training.

“He advised me to contact Vusi Mtolo in Johannesburg. I then did as advised and Vusi suggested that I come up to Johannesburg for sparring so that he can have a look at how I handle myself.”

Like any other supportive father, Mlindelwa Khumalo accompanied his son to the bright lights of Johannesburg where he had a sparring session under the watchful eye of Mtolo.

“I think Vusi was impressed because he made sure that I got a BSA boxer’s licence,” he said.

Meanwhile, Gauteng Veteran Boxing Association secretary Lehlohonolo “Hurricane” Nkatlo announced yesterday that they would hold a meeting at Bapedi Hall in Meadowlands Zone 3 on Sunday. “Starting time is 1.30pm,” said the retired pro boxer who fought against big names such as Jerry Mbitse, Luvuyo Kakaza, Stanley Mathe and Keith Rass.

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