News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Wednesday October 17th 2018

WBU boxing champ takes on Du Noon youngsters

Peter Luhanga

WBU champ Andile Tshongolo teaches Siphosetu Mdywe, 11, the art of boxing outside of his RDP house in Du Noon. Photo: Peter Luhanga/WCN                               With eyes transfixed on the moving target, he dances to a rhythm of his own. He puffs his cheeks, focused, his boy’s muscles ripple with each quick jab he throws at the punch pad, hitting it hard in precisely the same spot. A pattern emerges as alternate fists fly: one-two…one-two-three…one-two!

The coach shuffles around him with the punch pads, the young boxer follows, moving in synch with the rhythm of his calculated punches. They are surrounded by a ring of cheering youngsters, but nothing breaks the pair’s concentration.

This scene, filled with beauty, strength and agility, has 14-year-old Lusanda Mbayise at its main protagonist. It plays itself out everyday outside an RDP house in Du Noon township near Milnerton, north of Cape Town.

Mbayise is one of 21 children in Du Noon being trained by 39-year-old former SA boxing middleweight champion, Andile Tshongolo.

Although Tsholongo has been unable to find an appropriate space in the densely populated Du Noon in which to train the children, the former champ, who has won two World Boxing Union (WBU) middleweight belts, has not allowed this to prevent him from imparting his skills.

The children receive training outside his RDP house or outside the Du Noon community hall.

Despite the less-than-ideal venues, he said the children gravitated to his willing mentorship as boxing taught them to focus, discipline their minds and bodies and, perhaps most importantly, to respect themselves and stay out of trouble.

While many youngsters in the township frequent shebeens, engage in casual sex, and take drugs, he said boxing was the only discipline some of these teenagers received on a consistent basis.

“They are taught to be confident. They are taught to overcome,” said Tshongolo

Tshongolo, who dropped out of school in grade five to help his mother support the family, said boxing had taken him to greater heights and afforded him the opportunity to visit numerous countries around the world, including Germany, the United Kingdom and Dubai.

“When I was growing up I did not think I was going to be a professional boxer. I came from a poor background in Transkei,” he said

But his efforts to train children in his community have been hindered by the lack of available space and training equipment.

He said attempts at getting support from community leaders and ward councillors have been fruitless.

“In winter the kids run away, they don’t want to train in the cold. It could have been better if there was a hall made available for us,” he said

Mbayise said he loved the sport as it kept him away from “bad things”.

He said he had been training hard during the school holidays as he wants to become a professional boxer.

“Training outside is difficult, especially in winter, and we don’t have a punch bag,” he said

His mother, Rita Mbayise, 37, said since her son had started training in June last year and discovered his passion for the sport he had become much more disciplined.

Mbayise said at first she did not like the idea of her son learning to box as she thought he would use the skills to bully others.

But that was not the case.

He is not involved in bad groups. Other kids are doing bad things,” she said.

Regarding the lack of training space, ANC-aligned area councillor, Peace Stemela, said he was arranging with the City to have Tshongolo use the Du Noon community hall.

But Tshongolo said Stemela made empty promises “all the time”.

However, Stemela said he was aware that the sport was improving the attitudes of youth in the township.

Tags: boxing wbu dunoon

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