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Countdown to Mandela African Boxing Cup Tournament in Durban, South Africa, April 15-21: Drums of war in Durban as hosts select 23 boxers

The drums of war are beating. South Africa’s boxing team is wary of the advancing fully-armed troops from across Africa ready to do battle in what promises to be an exciting tournament.

Will South Africa accept to be caged at their own backyard? Not likely. They’re coming out with all guns blazing.The hosts are still licking their wounds after an indifferent showing in the African Games in Accra where they were ambushed and brought down to earth in a fierce exchange of fire!

Tail between their legs, they returned to base a disillusioned lot after finishing 12th with only one silver and a bronze in the African Games boxing event.

Now they have regrouped at home, relying on a familiar terrain to hit back forcefully.

The Mandela African Boxing Cup – scheduled for Durban next month – offers the hosts a perfect opportunity to redeem themselves.

To avoid any embarrassment at home, South Africa National Boxing Organisation (SANABO) has selected a strong team of 23 boxers – 12 women and 11 men – for the inaugural Mandela African Boxing Cup tournament in honour of the country’s late first black president Nelson Mandela, himself a former boxer who used boxing philosophy as part of his strategy to free the Mzansi Nation from the chains of the brutal and inhuman white apartheid regime.

The list released by SANABO’s branding, marketing, communication and competition commission chairperson Lwandiso Kwababana shows six newcomers in the women’s team and four in the men’s team.

The six women boxers to make their international debut in Durban are flyweight Ncube Ntandoyethu, bantamweight Qasana Cwenga, welterweight Bayeni Asemahle, middleweight Msweli Ntandoyenkosi and heavyweight Ngobeni Minkie. Newcomers in men’s team are bantamweight Lubabalo Lukholo, welterweight Damesi Siphamandla, middleweight Mnguni Vuyo and light-heavyweight Evans Lara.

Women regulars retained in the team are minimumweight Dila Vuyolwethu, light-flyweight Thandolwethu Mathiba aka Truelove who is the first South African female boxer to win a fight at the World Championships, Commonwealth Games featherweight bronze medallist Mnguni “Ben 10 ” Phiwokuhle and light-heavyweight Sithole Mkateko.

On the side of male boxers, the regulars in the team are African Games silver medallist Lusizi Lubabalo, Africa flyweight silver medallist Mtintelwa Sinovuyo (pictured left in red), featherweight Dyeyi Amzolele, lightweight Sogcwayi Sanele, light-welterweight John Paul Masamba and Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Simnikiwe Bongco.

Emotions will definitely run high during the one-week boxing extravaganza in Durban to be sponsored by the IBA whose billionaire president Umar Kremlev broached the idea of Mandela African Boxing Cup tournament to showcase Africa’s rising champions and the creme de la creme of the continent’s elite pugilists that include Morocco’s affable Khadija Mardi, Africa’s first ever female boxer to win a world title last year in Uzbekistan.

Legendary Moroccan heavyweight yesterday called me from Casablanca eager to know whether foreign boxers will be involved to give her stiff competition because currently in Africa she doesn’t have strong opposition.

I told her this is purely an African event unless the organisers decide to invite foreigners in the next edition.

Mardi may not be have worthy challengers in Africa but she’s definitely charged to be in Durban to reinforce her status as the world’s female heavyweight queen.

The Africa Boxing Confederation (AFBC) is working in conjunction with SANABO and IBA to make the one-week tournament a great success.

Credit: AFBC Communications

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