By Mark Etheridge
in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Boxing hit paydirt for Team South Africa at the African Union Region 5 Games here on Wednesday contributing four more medals to the team’s cause.
The pugilistic code were involved in three of nine finals as competition wound up at the Large City Hall in the centre of town.
Gold went to Sinamiso Ntuli in the welterweight division (69kg) and Ntethelelo Nyawo in the middleweight (75kg).
Then there was silver for Ntethelelo Ngema in the lightweight (60kg) while Sivenathi Nolawu had previously booked bronze by virtue of making the semi-final stage.
SA’s four medals meant that the rainbow nation topped the medals table in the boxing competition.
First up was Ngema and he looked to have easily won his competition as he boxed clever and seamlessly switched attack from body to head and didn’t waste any punches against Zambia’s Timothy Chesu.
But the judges were unconvinced and gave the bout Chesu’s way on a split decision.
Next up was Ntuli who took on Mozambique’s Lourenco Manuel Cossa.
Ntuli was on top from the get-go and looked to be leading comfortably when the Mohican hair-styled Mozambican dropped his guard and walked to a neutral corner vaguely gesturing to his bicep region. His corner tried to cajole him and officials into resuming matters but the referee, after some consulting with judges, ruled it a technical knock-out to Ntuli.
Immediately up next was Nyawo, who took on home town opponent Itai Mutsairo in front of some fanatical support.
But Nyawo, after a cautious start, soon found both his range and combinations and rocked his taller opponent. On two occasions he had the hapless hometowner taking a standing count and shortly afterwards the referee called it quits.
Summing up the SA campaign, manager Happy Mnqibisi was more than happy.
‘I’m very delighted. In the first fight where Ngema was involved, that decision was taken away from us by the judges! Our boy won clearly,’ he told Road to Rio 2016.
‘So I went back to the other guys and told them “listen boys, if we are going to win we will have to win by TKO” and look what happened.
Said an equally excited Nyawo: ‘I battled a bit early on and when I was in the corner he told me to go downstairs and work the stomach, because he was taller than me and also a bit of a novice.
‘So I worked the body and then hit him with a left hook a few times and that did the trick.’