Lovemore Dube, Sports Editor
BULAWAYO professional boxing trainer Phillip Striker Ndlovu has bemoaned the lack of fights for his boxers. One of the sport’s most loyal sons, Striker said it was becoming increasingly frustrating standing in the gym and bellowing instructions to boxers who do not know when their next fight would be. He said the enthusiasm boys showed on their first day when they resolved to turn professional is quickly fading away.
Striker believes something urgent must be done to rescue professional boxing not only in Bulawayo but the whole country.
“We are still in there because we love the sport. We were in it in the 1970s and 1980s when things were happening. It was one of the most followed disciplines in the country with venues like the Large City Hall and Stanley Square filled at boxing bills,” said Phillip Striker.
He said the sport needs new boxing promoters and sponsors.
“We need people who can breathe in new life into the sport by coming on board as sponsors and promoters. The sport must give a glimpse of hope to new comers and that can only happen with shows that also pay the boys reasonable purses. The state of boxing in the country must be a worrying factor to the nation,” said Striker.
The man who has coached some of the biggest names in the sport in the last 20 years, believes that the successes of Langton “Schoolboy” Tinago, Arifonso Zvenyika and the late Kilimanjaro were no flukes. He said given a chance there are far too many gems to polish out there who are looking for a conducive environment for their talents to flourish in.
“We have good boxers at Tshaka, with sponsorship and fights I have no doubt a heavyweight to surpass Thamsanqa Dube is in the making at Tshaka.
Dube is the reigning heavyweight boxing champion but has not fought in two years.
“The sponsorship does not have to be money only even giving some of our boxers jobs would help. They would be able to fend for themselves and to buy training equipment on their own,” said the veteran trainer.
Striker has coached the likes of Sipho Moyo, Ambrose Mlilo, Dube, Nokuthula Tshabangu and Modicai Donga all of whom have been national champions in their respective weight divisions.
Striker challenged Bulawayo people to take up promoting boxing. “We have previously done well with our promotions here in Bulawayo. We have had Rampage Ring Promotions, Reynolds Inn and New Windermere under Omega Sibanda doing a sterling job for the sport. We hope others can take the challenge and ensure Bulawayo stays the home of champions,” said Striker.