Boxers' special bond with prison

16 September 2018 - 14:25
By Bongani Magasela

To his detractors it may sound funny that we are glorifying someone whose wayward life landed him in jail.

But Thomas "Tommy Gun" Oosthuizen, the the former two weight division boxing champion - IBO super middleweight and light heavyweight titlist - is a good boxer deserving credit for his craft.

Having spent almost 17 months behind bars for dealing in drugs, the 30-year-old talented left-hander, the son of former SA junior middleweight and middleweight champion Charles Oosthuizen, walked straight into an ABU title fight and won it against Thabiso Mchunu last weekend.

Oosthuizen remains undefeated in a local ring and is yet to lose against a South African. He joins the list which includes Sabelo Jubatha, Mzukisi Roberts, Lindile Tshemese, Jarred Silverman and Dingaan "Rose of Soweto" Thobela.

Jubatha served seven years of a 15-year conviction for rape. He received parole in 2007, fought his first professional boxing match in 2008, and won the SA featherweight title in 2009. He lost it in 2012 and retired in 2013.

Roberts was jailed for 19 years for murder. He infamously made headlines after being smuggled out of jail in 2003 to fight in a boxing tournament without a licence.

Tshemese spent 10 years of his 15-year-term in various prisons for robbery. He made his professional debut in 2012, and he won the South African junior bantamweight title in his 10th fight in 2015. He lost it in 2017 and failed in his attempt to regain it on August 26.

Silverman was sentenced to five years for attempted murder at a music festival in Boksburg. He is out pending appeal.

Thobela landed in a Barberton Prison cell not because he committed a crime, but to train hard to get into shape.

In some cases, the experience launched a successful career of life rehabilitation.

In others, it was the end of a tumultuous existence. For each, it played an integral role in shaping their lives and our perception - for better or worse.