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Connecting with family motivated me – Nontshinga

IBF champ happy to be recognised and celebrated

Time with family at home refuelled Sivenathi Nontshinga.
Time with family at home refuelled Sivenathi Nontshinga.
Image: Supplied

Drifting back to the rural area from the bright lights of the city was what Sivenathi Nontshinga needed after losing his International Boxing Federation (IBF) junior-flyweight belt in November.

Soul-searching was what he had to do and there is no better way than divorcing yourself from acquaintances and spending quality time with your family.

“I had to find myself,” said the 25-year-old fighter, who has earned recognition and respect from outside these shores and that is illustrated by the multiple fight deals he has signed with British promoter Eddie Hearn.

Nontshinga is from East London in the Eastern Cape, but he spends most of his time in Amalinda, a suburb in that city. Nontshinga fights out of Johannesburg under trainer and manager Colin Nathan.

Nontshinga won back the IBF junior-flyweight belt from Adrian Curiel via a 10th-round stoppage on Saturday morning in front of 10,000 fans at Oaxa City, Mexico.

“I had to go back home and have time with family. I performed ritual, which includes slaughtering a goat for my grandmother,” said Nontshinga after touching down at OR Tambo International Airport yesterday.

“Honestly, I felt good about myself after being with my family; before you know it, I received a call from Colin informing me about the rematch against Curiel.”

Nontshinga said winning the world title, even from the first time in 2022 against Mexican Hector Flores in Mexico, was a dream come true.

“When I stated out at the age of 17, one thing motivated me and that was the wish to become a world champion,” said Nontshinga, who began training with Mzamo Njekanye in Duncan Village before the boxer’s father Thembani Gopheni took over.

Gopheni and his son chalked up 10 wins and that includes capturing the IBF International he defended successfully two times before winning the IBF junior-flyweight elimination fight to qualify for the actual world title.

“I have mixed emotions,” said the newly crowned champion. “I mean President Cyril Ramaphosa posted on his page about my win; Eastern Cape premier [Oscar Mabuyane] has invited me to be there during the State Of the Province Address tomorrow.

“That is the sign of being recognised for raising the country’s flag. So, ja, connecting with family motivated me and restored my purpose in life."

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