Xolisani “Nomeva” Ndongeni and Bukiwe “Anaconda” Nonina walked tall on Friday night when they were declared the country’s best Male and Female Boxer of the Year respectively at the Boxing SA (BSA) awards ceremony.
Ndongeni, arguably the country’s most charismatic fighter, ingratiated himself with the judges for his outstanding showing in the ring by beating Mexican Juan Garcia Mendez on points in their lightweight 10-round contest in California in November.
This was seven months after he knocked out Tanzanian Emilio Norfat in the first round of their 10-rounder in East London in April.
Ndongeni pipped fellow contestants Simphiwe “Chain Reaction’’ Khonco and Zolani “Last Born” Tete to walk away with the award.
“I’m excited to be voted the country’s best boxer because I had a tough year that made me to compete for this award with good fighters like Khonco and Tete. I’m looking forward to winning the World Boxing Association title this year,” said Ndongeni.
For Nonina, who is the SA female bantamweight champion, stealing the thunder was a foregone conclusion.
She defended her crown a record five times, becoming Mzansi’s first female fighter to achieve this milestone.
Anaconda competed for the accolade with the equally talented Leighandre Jegels and Sharoddene Fortuin.
“I knew that making history with five successful defences would earn me this award and I’m proud of myself.”
Tete’s stunning uppercut that sent Englishman Paul Butler crashing to the canvas in the eighth round of their International Boxing Federation junior bantamweight championship at Echo Arena, Liverpool, in 2015, won Tete the Knockout of the Year honour.
Last Born’s manager, Mlandeli Tengimfene, walked away with Best Manager trophy for his inspiring handling of his charges at their East London stable.
It was unsurprising to see Azinga “Golden Boy” Fuzile being named the Male Prospect of the Year after his upset defeat of the vastly experienced Macbute “Macman” Sinyabi. The win had him crowned SA featherweight kingpin with only five bouts under his belt.
This year’s awards made a roaring return to the boxing scene after a seven-year lull. They lived to up to expectations, overshadowing the previous ceremonies. And Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula – whose department organised the show jointly with BSA – told the audience next year’s awards would be held in the Eastern Cape, regarded as the mecca of boxing.
Friday’s occasion was spiced up by celebrity boxing matches featuring television actors Gabriel “Chief Azwindini” Temudzani of Muvhango fame and Vuyo Dabula who plays Gaddafi on Generations.
Also pitted against one another in the ring were singer Naomi Kay and actress Thando “Nolwazi” Thabethe.