THE Eastern Cape amateur team emerged as the champions at the weekend after four days of action at the annual South African Elite Amateur Boxing championships hosted in East London.
The Daily Dispatch’s Sabelo Skiti reports that the hosts capped off a brilliant performance with a haul of five gold medals on the final day of the tournament at the Indoor Sport Centre in Mdantsane. They were closely followed by Limpopo, which ended the tournament with just one gold less.
It was a job well done all round for the team, which have had to play second fiddle to this year’s third- placed Gauteng for the past two years.
Gauteng only managed to get two boxers among the gold. However, their three silver and five bronze medals, which brought them to the same amount of overall medals as the top two provinces, is a mark of their pedigree and also underscores how close things are at the nationals.
Elite championship debutante Ntlantla Ngamntwini was one of the stars for the hosts as he worked his way to his first Elite gold medal.
Other gold medallists from the province are Simphiwe Lusizi, Tulani Mbenge, Ayabonga Sonjica and Ludumo Lamati.
Simbongile Tshazibane, Yanga Gingxana and Gerald Dingiswayo’s silver medals, and Philasande Mpontshane and Luvuyo Sizani’s bronze medals also contributed to the overall medals count.
Team Eastern Cape also walked away with the best team award, while the boxer of the tournament went to 48kg division champion Lebogang Pilane from the Free State.
But none of that could take away from the day’s winners, who relied on input from all over the province.
Though the bulk of the boxers in the team come from East London and Port Elizabeth, backroom staff were also brought in from other regions.
Team coach Mthethunzima Dumezweni, from Mthatha, was overjoyed for his charges, who displayed a high level of boxing throughout the tournament.
He had been tasked with the difficult job of bringing together and uniting a team that had been together in camp less than a month.
To his advantage is the fact that 50 percent of the team came from one source ÔÇô the province’s High Performance Centre, which is proving to be very successful.
Eastern Cape Amateur Boxing Organisation (Ecabo) public relations officer Thembekile Gacula said the organisation was happy the team had met its expectations.
ÔÇ£We did wonders on Saturday; it was a great feeling for the whole team. Although some of our boys let themselves down through complacency and in very important fights, we’re very proud of them. We must also mention the support of all those who attended, as it really drove the boys forward and inspired them.
ÔÇ£To see the amount of support we drew on Sunday for our event, which coincided with the World Cup final, is great,ÔÇØ he said.
South African Amateur Boxing Organisation (Sanabo) chairman Barries Barnard said earlier in the week that all the gold medal winners would be part of the national team.