By Mark Etheridge
Our boxers leave the All Africa Games here on Saturday content with knowing that they’ve improved on their performance at the last Games four years ago.
Of the team of nine boxers, four reached the semi-final stages which earned them bronze medals. The latest medal-grab pushed Team South Africa’s total up to 73 at the start of action on Friday.
“I think this squad of guys has great potential,” said Krugersdorp based team manager Herman Beukes, “The thing is that the majority of them are young and learning all the time.”
The four boxers that made the semis were Ayabonga Sonjica (56kg), Siphiwe Lusizi ((69kg), Tulani Mbenge (64kg) and Paul Schafer (91kg).
“Just about 90% of the guys here were gaining first time international experience,” explained Beukes. “Walter Dlamini is the oldest at 31 and Gift Pilane, one of the experienced guys is 24.. of the others two are teenagers and the rest are barely 20.
“I’m just happy that we managed to improve on the previous All Africa Games in Algiers, Algeria where we won one silver and two bronze medals.”
Asked to single out his future stars, Beukes said: “I’d say Ayabonga and Tulani are the guys, at this tournament at least, who showed the most exciting promise.”
Next up for the boxers is World Championships┬á in Azerbajan and the squad leaves on 23 October for the three-week tournament.
Medal hopes? “It;s going to be really tough. That competition is a completely new ball game and a medal there would be a huge plus,” said Beukes.