DRENCHED in sweat, putting their best fist forward – the girls at the Wits Boxing Club are taking on the ring.
The club has seen a steady increase of female members over the years. Coach Tando Melapi said he has seen membership numbers of women increase dramatically to 200 from only 13 when the club started in 1998.
The majority of girls said they were boxing to up their fitness levels and lose weight. “The injuries are not worth actually competing but it’s a great experience and good way of keeping fit,” said Natalie Zoghby, 3rd year Electrical Engineering.
First year Anele Masikane, however, wants to be a boxing champion. “I want to stand in the ring and be a champ, like my late uncle and Olympic boxer Barrington Mkhize,” Masikane said. She is one of the few girls at the club who love boxing as a sport and want to compete.
Another competitor, International Relations honours student Karabo Smith, said that she was scared of being injured in the beginning. However, she realised that the injuries would only help to make her a better fighter. She said boxing has helped her confidence levels and now she can also protect herself.
“A conscious decision was made to have both genders do the same kind of training. I don’t train boys or girls, I train boxers,” Melapi said.
The female boxers don’t sit back during training. Vuvuzela watched as Lorraine Ngubane, 3rd year BAccSci, led the post-run exercises and commanded the boxers to keep going no matter how tired they were.
The female boxers do not mind training with members of the opposite sex. They said they joined the club to achieve their own goals and were not there to look pretty for the boys.
The club recently competed in the University Sports South Africa annual boxing championships, and brought home the trophy for winning both the male and female sections of the tournament. Wits Boxing Club has won this competition four times, the only university to have so many wins in the history of the competition.
Hedda Wolmarans, sports woman of the year for 2012, was one of the gold medalists. She also held the title for the South African National Boxing Organisation champ in 2012.
Nodumiso Gwala, 3rd year BA Geography and Sociology, said that Wolmarans was an icon to her. She added that other girls were inspired by seeing the competing girls train. Gwala has been training for two years and competing for one, the end goal being entering the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.