Nearly A Professional Boxer
After a few months of following Pierre Coetzer’s progress in the professional ring and him winning his fights, I thought. That could be an easy way to make some money. All I had to do was fight a few locals as a professional boxer.
I applied for a professional boxing license. After a few weeks and a doctors’ visit for a medical checkup, they granted me a professional boxing license. I had no trainer or promoter. I decided to train out of a gym belonging to one of the black promoters in the township of Mdantsane, just outside East London. It was a gym where great black boxers trained, such as the likes of Nkosana ‘Happy boy’ Mgxaji.
After about a month of training, the promoter at the gym told me I would fight within two weeks at the Sisa Dukashe Stadium in Mdantsane. My opponent was to be a black guy from Ginsberg Township in King Williamstown. I was excited. The purse for winning the fight would be about R750. Good money for a constable in the 1980’s.
About a week before my fight was to take place, the gym promoter said he wanted to have a talk with me. He told me word got out in the community that I was a cop. And on top of it, I worked for the Riot Squad.
During that time in the 80’s, there was a vast number of riots in the Eastern Cape. I, being part of the Riot Squad, was always called in to action during those riots. Sometimes necessary force was used to break up those riots. People died or got injured during the clashes between the rioters and the police.
The promoter said if anything had to happen, he could not guarantee my safety in the middle of Mdantsane. I was very disappointed, but also agreed that my life was worth more than the R750 prize money. I also then realized that because of the gym I was affiliated with, most of my fights would take place in the townships. So that ended my nearly professional boxing career.
I started playing Rugby for the police’s first team. Boxing was, according to me, something of the past. I received a call from my longtime boxing coach who told me that my club, Turnbull Park, where I used to box as a kid and, before becoming a policeman, wanted to have a tournament. They wanted me as the main fight of the evening, seeing as I belonged to them. Or at least that was how they put it. I felt I owed it to them, but I also knew that Rugby fit was not boxing fit. Another policeman, a good boxer and friend of mine, was also asked to fight in the same tournament. He also had not boxed in a few years. We both decided that we will call it a last fight. My old trainer said that he will meet up with me the morning of the tournament. I asked him if he knew who my opponent would be. He said something like ‘ah don’t worry about it, it is some “Palooka” (An inferior or average prize fighter).
The Friday morning before the fight, I got a call from my coach’s wife. She told me that my coach had been admitted to hospital. It was serious. He had been fighting cancer for a few years. That was a shock to me as we bumped into each other now and then, but not once did he ever tell me about his cancer. I tried to visit him in the hospital that day, but they wouldn’t allow me to see him. I had a fight the next day, but I had no longer had a corner man.
The Saturday morning, I contacted my old German buddy that had by now left the police and was working for his dad as a shoe rep. I asked him to be my corner man that evening. He was happy to assist.
‘What must I wear?’ he asked me.
‘A white shirt, white pants and white shoes,’ I told him.
When we met at Turnbull Park that evening, he was dressed in a Hawaiian shirt, long white pants and his dad’s white bowling shoes.
The second last fight was my police friend. He made it a brief night and won his fight with a TKO. I was next and busy gloving up. But first my corner man had to bandage my hands. It was quite a story, but we had my hands bandaged after about a half an hour. Whilst I was gloving up, my opponent was also getting gloved up. My friend and corner man whispered into my ears, ‘fuckkit, did you see all his medals?’ My opponent was a well-built young black guy with about twenty medals hanging around his neck.
I laughed and told my corner man it was just scare tactics. We entered the ring, and it took about ten minutes for my opponent’s coach to remove all his medals.
They announced him as a champion in a few weight divisions and champion of a few provinces. I was fighting in my police colours’. My corner man was getting very nervous, and he kept on asking what he must do for me in the corner. I laughed and said that at the end of the first round he must just put the chair in the ring for me to sit on and bring the water and a water bucket so I could either spit or bleed. Besides that, I told him he must also have a sponge and towel ready.
The bell went for the first round. I think it was about forty seconds into the fight when I knocked my opponent out with a right hook. I knocked him hard, and they had to call a doctor into the ring as he remained unconscious for a while.
My corner man was very upset, as he never acted as a coach by giving me water and wiping me with a towel between rounds. Some of the crowd that knew me from the old days was also upset. They came to see me fight once more, and it was over too quick. Once my opponent was up and standing, I walked over to him, asked him if he was OK and thanked him for the fight.
Now I thought I was finished with boxing. But no, life had more in store for me concerning my boxing career.