Where have all the boxers gone?

Boxing enthusiast Grant Germanus says it was not too long ago that the noble art of boxing in South Africa was mentioned in the same breath as soccer and rugby.

“Over the last decade, boxing has shown a steady decline to the point where enthusiasts like myself are hard-pressed to talk about the sport in the same manner as some of the other major codes,” he said on Wednesday.

“It is very hard to put our finger on the problem, maybe because there is not just one problem.

“I do not know if it could be a lack of talent, bad administration, bad management or it is a compilation of all three.”

Germanus (35) is an avid enthusiast whose history dates back to his great uncle Vic Toweel, who was the first South African world champion in 1949.

“It could be that South Africa does no longer have draw cards in terms of fighters as those of yesteryear.

“I am talking about men who captured the imagination of the public,” he said, referring to top-name fighters such as Gerrie Coetzee, Charlie Weir, Arnold Taylor, Arthur Mayisela, Tap Tap Makhathini, Brian Mitchell and Dingaan Thobela.

“These men could literally fill any stadium in the country, and not since then have any of our more recent fighters been able to instil such fanaticism.

“The most we can hope for today is watching ex-local world champions fight one another to make up the numbers. It also concerns me ... that our most recent world champions who suffered defeats in big fights were unable to bounce back on the international scene.

“The last fighters to have successfully come back after a world-title defeat were Dingaan Thobela and Corrie Sanders.”

Thobela came back in the twilight of his career with a dramatic, last-round knockout over the highly regarded Glen Catley for the WBC super middleweight title in 2000.

Sanders stunned the once-thought-“invincible” Vladimir Klitshko in two rounds to win the WBO heavyweight crown last year.

“We are left wondering where do local boxers, trainers, managers, promoters and Boxing South Africa go from here.
Hopefully boxing will regain its rightful place among our top sporting codes,” was Germanus’s parting shot.—Sapa

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