By Mark Etheridge
Honoured by Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula at a recognition of excellence function in Johannesburg earlier this week, our boxers bound for the Commonwealth Games later this month are set on gaining still more recognition in Glasgow.
Six boxers are part of Team South Africa that will board the Boeing and head for Glasgow two weeks from now. And manager Johan Prinsloo is upbeat of the pugilistic code’s chances.
“You will definitely see South African boxers in the finals,” he predicted to Road to Rio 2016 on Thursday.
“All our boxers that are going to the Games, took part in the 5th Africa Cup in East London two weeks ago and did very well.
“We used the Africa Cup as a preparation for the Commonwealth… they boxed against the best in Africa and made us very proud.”
In the team for Glasgow are both our 2012 London Olympians, Ayabonga Sonjica (56kg) and Siphiwe Lusizi (75kg) who won gold in their respective divisions in East London. And Paul Schafer, one of the more promising athletes at the 2011 All Africa Games in Mozambique, also got gold in the +91kg category.
“There was also silver for Tulani Mbenge (69kg) and bronze for Luvuyo Sizani (81kg) while Phathiswa Thingana, our only female boxer (75kg) who is going to the Commonwealth, won a bronze.”
Prinsloo expressed his satisfaction with the run-in to the Games. “Yes, it’s going very well with the preparation, the boxers are very focused and can’t wait to improve on their Africa status.
“It’s very difficult to say who are the favourites to bring back medals, but each boxer in his own right is a favourite, it all depends on the draw on the first day. But we have prepared for any draw!
“Now that we are back in business after the suspension from world body AIBA we had to work very hard to get the boxers back into the African and Commonwealth rankings. Dedication, commitment and hard-work have been our motto until now.”
Prinsloo went on to say that the focus in training has been on the highest achievements possible and not just on making the podium. “At our training camps we don’t train for just a medal, we’re training for the gold medal and with this attitude in training sessions we’re creating a winning attitude.
“Each training sparring session and each boxing match ÔÇô the team see these as their final bout and giving it their all.”
South Africa sent four boxers to the last Commonwealth Games in New Delhi four years ago but failed to win a medal.