Bopape nomination for boxer of the year makes Alex proud

Poverty-stricken township hasn't experienced boxing glory in ages

Nkululeko Mhlongo covers up as John Bopape piles up pressure.
Nkululeko Mhlongo covers up as John Bopape piles up pressure.
Image: Sipho Mashego

Alexandra township – like many densely populated black settlements in SA – has its own challenges including crime and squalor.

But those unfortunate conditions do not define people living there. Like suburban areas, townships have individuals who have the potential and the ability to become household names in every sphere.

That is how John “Section 29” Bopape feels about people who judge others based on where they come from.

Bopape is the reigning SA middleweight boxing champion from Alexandra. He is vying for SA boxing’s most prestigious award – the boxer of the year – when the awards ceremony takes place next weekend in Durban.

“The nomination is history for Alex,” said the ABU champ who turned 32 last Wednesday.

“I give praises to all people who nominated me for this award and I will forever be grateful to them. Without sounding arrogant I expected to be nominated because I did very well in that period.”

Other nominees are IBF junior flyweight champ Sivenathi Nontshinga and WBA Intercontinental junior bantamweight holder Phumelela Cafu.

Nontshinga was raised from a chicken farm community near Mdantsane while Cafu is from Duncan Village, which is described as violent, crime-ridden and poverty stricken township in East London.

Alexandra produced respected football people like Orlando Pirates club owner and PSL chairman Irvin Khoza, former Bafana Bafana players Maimane Phiri and Brian Baloyi, and ace actors like Israel Matseke-Zulu, Meshack Mavuso and Mduduzi Mabaso to mention but a few men of substance.

“It is my turn now to represent Alex,” said Bopape who became the first national champion from Alexandra in 30 years when he dethroned champ Nkululeko Mhlongo on April 24 last year.

His two defences, an eighth-round stoppage of Snamiso Ntuli on July 31 last year and the first-round KO of Ayanda Mthembu on March 26,  qualified him for the nomination because it fell within the period under review for nomination for any of the 15 categories, which is  April 1 2022 until March 31 2023.

“Winning both the SA and ABU belts is the result of the support and love from my family and my community. To all my homies  let’s go out there and prove them wrong,” said Bopape.

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