The “fight” doesn’t stop for many boxing legends when they retire and a large proportion of them fall on very hard times when their ring careers are over.
Nobody is more aware of this than Branco Sports Productions and has consequently dedicated their “Triple Header Championship” extravaganza at the Orient Theatre in East London on June 29th to former South African great Nkosana “Happy boy” Mgxaji.
And a fitting tribute it certainly is to the former South African junior lightweight and junior welterweight great Mgxaji, with no less than two WBC International fights and the battle for the SA junior lightweight title.
Thirty percent of the gate takings at the popular Orient Theatre complex on June 29th have been pledged to Mgxaji, who will also be flown to East London by Branco Sports Productions from his home in Cape Town to be ringside.
Mdantsane-raised Mgxaji, who thrilled local crowds in the late 70’s and early 80’s with his exceptional skill, is living in poverty in the Western Cape now, where he was forced to re-locate for health reasons some time ago.
Topping the impressive bill is a battle between two East London boxers for the vacant WBC light-flyweight title between SA # 2 Phumzile Mathyila and the experienced SA # 4 contender Sizwe Sinyabi.
Jeffrey Mathebula will also make the second defence of his WBC International featherweight title against his countryman Themba Tschicila, while the country’s two top-rated junior lightweights, Godfrey Nzimande and Mpumelelo Mbedle, will square up for the vacant SA title.
The WBC light flyweight title as well as the national junior lightweight title both became vacant recently after WBC International champion Muvhuso Nedzanani and national junior lightweight title holder, Ali Funeka, were stripped of their respective titles.
Promoter Branco Milenkovic originally had intentions of staging the “Triple Header Championship” in Johannesburg, but that changed after a rival promoter made empty promises to stage a similar benefit extravaganza in East London, which never materialized.
After much anticipation and talk, the rival promoter evidentally pulled the plug due to a lack of sponsorship from the Eastern Cape Local Government, leaving excited boxing enthusiasts in the popular boxing hub high and dry.
“Two years ago, something similar was done on a much smaller scale for Happy boy, but after being informed by BSA’s representative in East London, Phakamile Jacobs of Mgxaji’s deteriorating health, we decided to step in once again,” said promoter Branco Milenkovic.
Former four-time world champion and co-promoter Baby Jake Matlala adds: “ We are going back to East London where we feel very welcome and it is a privilege, without the backing of a principal sponsor, to give back to the people what was originally promised by someone else.”
The list of Mgxaji’s victims reads like a whose who of South African boxing and are legends in their own right. Numbering among them are Alf Buqwana, Anthony Morodi, Victor Mpiyakhe, Tsietsi Maretloane, Bramley Whiteboy as well as Arthur Mayisela.
Branco pointed out how the world hailed the exceptional career of the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez a few years back, who had a professional career spanning 108 fights prior to calling it quits.
"Only a handful of people would be aware that Happy boy Mgxaji had a remarkable 101 professional fights, with 88 wins, 4 draws and only 9 defeats,” added Branco.
Ticket prices have been pegged back at just R70-00, very reasonable when one considers the magnitude of the tournament, with 30% going to the Mgxaji family.
“We are appealing to people in the region with it’s very rich boxing tradition, to come and support this unprecedented championship event as well as celebrating the exceptional career of a man who entertained the boxing folk in the 70’s and 80’s,” concluded Matlala.