Township boxer wants to train “the next Tyson”

But Masiphumelele’s boxing gym has hardly any equipment

By Ashraf Hendricks

8 February 2023

Masi-Cape Eagles Boxing Club is a new boxing club in Masiphumelele.

Almost every day, a group of children in Masiphumelele can be found stretching, running laps, learning jabs, ducking and punching techniques and other exercises. They are training to become boxers, yet there is no boxing gym in this township in the south of Cape Town.

Coach Athi Msindeli teaches children to stretch and get fit at the Sosebenza youth centre.

To train, Masi-Cape Eagles Boxing Club use a multi-purpose hall at the Sosebenza youth centre and the home of Ntsikelelo “Witness” Moyi, who is the founder of the club. The club trains from Monday to Thursday. If it is available, they train at the Southpaw boxing studio in Sun Valley on weekends, about 4km from Masiphumelele.

Athi Msindeli and his father Ntsikelelo “Witness” Moyi run the club. Moyi says the club has five coaches, all of whom are family, including his two sons.

Moyi said he always loved boxing but, growing up in Nqamakwe in the Eastern Cape, the sport wasn’t accessible. He has been living in Masiphumelele for over 20 years now and there are still no boxing clubs in the township. Both of Moyi’s sons box. He says that this inspired him to start the club in October 2022.

Hlulumi Molowana, 13, joined the club to get fit and says he wants to fight in the future. “I want to see myself becoming a champion,” he says.

Moyi says there isn’t much for children to do in Masiphumelele after school. Boxing instils “discipline”, he says, and teaches children to respect themselves, their bodies and those around them.

Eight-year-old Asiphile Mgqutyana was one of over a dozen children at the club when GroundUp visited. The ages of the children in the club range from seven to 15.

There are about 20 children currently in the club and it is free to join. Moyi is using all his own equipment including a punching bag and two sets of gloves that are too big for the children.

Moyi wants to turn this structure into a gym at the Sosebenza youth centre.

At the youth centre, there is an unused structure that Moyi is hoping to refurbish into a gym but they are still searching for the resources to do that.

Moyi says that they need punching bags, speed balls, skipping ropes, band bandages, protective headgear, gum guards, fighting kits and people to help build the gym. “I have nothing,” he says.

Athi Msindeli helps Bafana Manyathi, 13, with his gloves. The Masi-Cape Eagles Boxing Club has two pairs of adult gloves. They are too big for the children.

Athi Msindeli says that there aren’t any recreational activities available for children in Masiphumelele anymore. The soccer pitch has now been covered over and used for housing. He says that “I see them [children] drinking,” and that projects like this can keep them busy and tire them out.

Aklhonya Mehlo, 12, practises his jabs.

Msindeli’s role in the club is more than just a boxing coach. He helps children with their schoolwork and encourages them to excel. He says that boxing is interesting because though it can be dangerous, you have to “play it cool and wise”.

One day, Moyi says, he hopes to see the next Mike Tyson come out of Masiphumelele.

“I want to see champions.”

Bafana Manyathi is one of the club’s members.