South African boxing coach Petrus Prinsloo says the Commonwealth Youth Games will be a stepping stone to greater things for his junior fighters.
Former South African light middleweight champion Prinsloo and fellow coach Mthethunzima Dumezweni mentor a three-man junior boxing team in the Isle of Man. Nyiko Ndukula (light flyweight) and Jabulani Makhense (lightweight) are from the Limpopo while Sikho Nqothole (flyweight) hails from the Eastern Cape. All three fighters are South African champions in their respective divisions while Dukula also secured bronze at the recent Zone VI Youth Games tournament in Swaziland.
Prinsloo is confident that his boys will impress at the Commonwealth Youth Games over the next two weeks but also believes his fighters’ time will come at the 2016 and 2020 Olympics.
‘We are here to win medals. That is what we are focused on now,’ says Prinsloo, who runs one of South Africa’s top boxing gyms in Pretoria. ‘But I feel bigger opportunities will come these boys way over the next few years. Their time will not be at the 2012 Olympic Games, but they’ll be South Africa’s boxing stars at the 2016 Games in Rio and the 2020 Games. They’ll be strong medal contenders by then.
‘That is why this Commonwealth Youth Games is important. Swaziland was Nyiko’s first international competition, and he did well there. The Isle of Man is the first overseas trip for all three boys and this international experience against world-class junior boxers will be valuable for their development.
‘New Zealand and Canada will be out toughest opponents as they have more experience, but our boxers will go all out against them.’
Prinsloo, however, stressed that these boxers need to steer away from turning professional too soon.
‘Most South African boxers turn professional too soon, like at the ages of 19 to 21. The correct age to turn pro and to live up to your full potential is 25 or 26. These boys need to be patient and to stick to amateur level for now so that they can compete at Olympic and Commonwealth events. It is difficult as the professional deal is so appealing, but once you turn pro, you can’t go to these competitions.
‘These boys are talented. Very talented. We need them to represent South Africa at future international events to help achieve South African boxing success at huge platforms, like the Olympics.’
By Gareth Duncan