Meet the rose among boxing’s thorns

This weekend some of Cape Town’s top boxers will square off in the ring at the OR Tambo Hall in Khayelitsha as they vie for top honours and try to thrill boxing fans from across the city.

With two world titles up for grabs and a charity grudge match between South Africa’s Francois “White Buffalo” Botha and Germany’s Uwe “The Hammer” Huck, as well as some promising up-and-comers on the undercard, the Fight for Hope event is sure to be a spectacle.

While all the hustle and bustle happens in the ring, behind the scenes is a somewhat unexpected figure. A fan of boxing all her life, Edgemead’s Natasha Lyon took the plunge last year into the often murky waters of boxing promotion when she formed Lyon Promotions and, along with various role players, she is excited to get her first fully-fledged event off the ground.

The question arises, what exactly went into starting something like this and how did it all come about in the first place?

“My first memories of boxing are of getting up early in the morning to watch the likes of Gerrie Coetzee, Brian Mitchell, Sugar Ray Leonard, George Foreman and other boxers of their era with my late grandfather. We would get up extra early to make coffee and sandwiches and gather in our lounge with family and friends that came over to watch with us.

“I believe boxing has the potential to open so many avenues, especially for our youth. It teaches the discipline that equips one for the journey of life.

“Boxing brings people from all around the world, of all cultures and ages, together. Once you get involved with the boxing fraternity, you become part of a very large family, an incredibly close family. It really is addictive,” she said.

A mother of three, the feisty business woman first started thinking of becoming a promoter after a boxing official jokingly said that he could see her promoting her own events one day.

That little seed germinated and eventually bloomed into more than just a dream, but, come this weekend, it will become reality.

“My friend Rob Fenyes, a Boxing South Africa official told me one day that he knew I would be a boxing promoter.

“At that stage I didn’t see it happening until one evening when I was sitting next to WBF (World Boxing Federation) president Howard Goldberg at a Cape Fight League tournament.

“We got to chatting and he saw potential in me and the rest is pretty much history.

“Honestly, I feel like boxing promoting came to me a lot easier than when I became a business owner in the security industry.

“It is unfortunate that women are still having to prove themselves in male-dominated industries. I think because I went into business after suddenly becoming a single mom five years ago, to create a career and income for myself, as well as creating a life where I could be there for my three girls, I was able to take that same drive and apply it to my new venture of boxing promoting and because of that drive I didn’t give much thought to any of the challenges I might encounter.

“I feel that if you are passionate about anything in life, you should be driven by that gut feeling and step into it, pursue it with all you have and push past the little fears of the unknown and of any challenges that may lie ahead of you,” she said.

That sounds like sound advice not just for those chasing a dream but for the boxers in her event as well.

Fans should keep an eye out for Mzuvukile “Old Bones” Magwaca, who will take on the Phillipines’ Jason Canoy for the WBF bantamweight title and Bukiwe “Anaconda” Nonina who will face off against Germany’s Alesia Graf for the WBF women’s bantamweight belt.

The Fight for Hope boxing event will take place on Friday March 31 at the OR Tambo Hall in Mew Way, Khayelitsha, from 6pm. For more details contact Seralynn, Des or Gemma at info@sangar.co.za or 087 232 3320.

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