Backroom boys shine

These trainers get little or no praise for their contributions

It is referred to as a dead sport in the country’s sports circles but boxing lives in the ring.

Among those keeping it going, in spite of the unending SABC TV blackout, are trainers who dedicate their lives to honing the skills of the men who beat each other up for money.

Against all odds, at times without sponsors and no publicity, these loyalists of the sport of the late Nkoasana “Happyboy” Mgxaji consistently produce champions who challenge and win national and world honours.

More often than not, these gentlemen earn get little or no exaltation for their contribution in driving the boxing agenda. Instead, boxers and boardroom shenanigans hog the limelight.

Topping the charts is Nic Durandt, a seasoned trainer in his own right, who has been involved in the sport for close to 30 years.

He has produced and continues to nurture more world and local champions than anyone.

The secret behind Durandt’s illustrious record is mutual understanding between him and his fighters.

“What makes a great trainer is first and foremost his understanding of the business and, most importantly, in-depth knowledge of different boxers’ personalities and characters,” said Durandt.

“To earn respect and recognition in this craft, one has to take boxers to superfights all over the world and come home with the results.”

Durandt is no stranger to this and has got the numbers to back it up (see graphic).

For the flamboyant trainer, money has never been the motivation. Instead, victory, love and passion for the sport pushes him through the storms, he added.

Right now, throughout the country and in some parts of the world, every boxing fanatic is talking about a big fight coming up in two weeks featuring former IBF minimumweight king Nkosinathi “Mabhere” Joyi.

Lennox Mpulampula is the instructor behind Joyi’s and Noni Tenge’s rise to prominence and his overall contribution to the sport speaks volumes.

Then there’s only one trainer to have mentored a world champion and international hall of fame inductee in Brian Mitchell – Harold Volbrecht.

A great SA welterweight kingpin in his heyday, Volbrecht to date continues to make warriors and currently has two world title-holders under his guidance – IBO middleweight superstar Tommy Oosthuizen and IBO super-flyweight champ Gideon Buthelezi.

Manny Fernandez, hailed for his ability to produce fine fighters, is undoubtedly classy.

His name will go down in history among the few who have given their all to the sport.

Wrapping up the best five, one of the most humbled men in the corner – Gert Strydom – has also proved his mettle.

He believes attitude and approach towards different fights is what leads him to success.

“In this sport, you must always be prepared to learn no matter how long you’ve been in the game,” said Strydom.

SA’s top five boxing trainers

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