Successful day for Team South Africa in the boxing ring at the Region 5 Games
By GARY LEMKE in Lilongwe
Girl power was on full display as Asemahle Sotwili and Mthi Okuhle both scored impressive stoppage wins as they helped ensure Team South Africa had a successful day in the boxing ring at the Region 5 Games, with five of the six boxers in action winning.
Apart from the wins by the girl duo, there were also wins for Teyise Siseko (flyweight), Makabele Tshepo (featherweight) snd Zandile Mathebula (63.5kg), while light-middleweight Ndlela Limeya had an off day and lost his bout on points after taking standing eight-counts in the first two rounds.
Siseko, the reigning Region 5 champion from Maseru last year opened up the Team SA account with a stylish win at the end of the third and final round. “And still …” the Mdantsane, East London, youngster gleefully exclaimed afterwards, a reference to the familiar boxing announcer’s expression of, “And still … the flyweight champion …”
However, the real fireworks started to “fly”, to pardon the pun, when the 52kg Asemahle climbed through the ropes to face her Mozambican opponent, Setlabane Gorota. The 17-year-old South African jumped out at the first bell and swarmed all over her opponent, landing a series of strong punches before nailing Gorota with a strong right hand. The referee made the right decision to call the contest over.
Then, Okuhle, a Grade 11 pupil from Eerste River outside Cape Town made her statement. After a cagey first round, he came out for the second and looked much more polished, heavy punches forcing two standing eight counts over Zimbabwe’s Glorious Moyo, and a stoppage in round two. “In South Africa the women will be proud of us,” she said afterwards.
“I made it hard for myself in the first round,” she said. “I changed the game plan in the second round. I appreciate my coaches. You need to listen to your coaches. I wasn’t throwing straight punches, I was throwing hooks. The coaches said that I must change the way I am boxing, and punch straighter. I did that and the fight changed around.
“I saw in her eyes that I’d hurt her. I’ve been boxing for three years, having done athletics before that. I don;t like violence, my heart is in the church and today God was with me.”
Okhule is a two-time national champion but is in her first Region 5 Games after missing out in Maseru last year due to travel certificate problems.
Asemahle admitted that she felt a little “scared” before her fight, but perhaps, given that English isn’t her first language, she meant nervous. She certainly didn’t look afraid of her Mozambican opponent. “I am always a bit ‘scared’ before a fight but then when I get in the ring that goes away. I believe in God and I trust Him. I started to let my punches go and I could see that I was faster than her.”
The teenager has an innocent face but behind those looks lurks someone with fire in her eyes and belly. “I like to make pain, it’s my job. I loved boxing from the first time I went into a gym four years ago. Boxing has now. become my drug. At school people know I’m a boxer, but the violence is only for inside the ring.
“Boxing isn’t to be used outside of it and I’m just a human being who happens to love the sport of boxing. I’ve had a lot of fights – more than 100 – and my goal is to become the first girl boxer to bring gold back into South Africa.”
From what we saw standing outside of the ropes in Lilongwe on Tuesday, that might well be what’s written in the stars for Asemahle.
Photos: ROGER SEDRES
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