Johannesburg - Bukiwe “Anaconda” Nonina believes she has disposed of all her opponents in South Africa and is now ready to give up her national championship belt for an altogether larger aspiration – fighting for world crowns.
Since turning professional in 2011, Nonina has conquered the local ring with aplomb, having won the SA female bantamweight title and defending it successfully a record five times.
This is a unique feat in local women’s boxing – no other fighter has reached such a milestone.
It’s no wonder Anaconda clinched the Female Boxer of the Year award at the Boxing SA Awards, held in Durban in KwaZulu-Natal three weeks ago, for her outstanding performance in the ring last year. It earned her a trophy and R15 000.
Now the 24-year-old wants to take her glory to a higher level by giving up her national title and gaining an international one.
Anaconda may just realise that dream and earn a world championship belt on March 31, when she meets Germany’s Alesia Graf at Khayelitsha Hall in Cape Town.
They will exchange blows for the vacant World Boxing Federation (WBF) female bantamweight diadem.
Nonina’s drive to win the world title is apparent during her training sessions at the Bronx Gym in Hillbrow in Johannesburg, where she trains daily as part of her preparations for the epic battle.
We meet her at the venue. Being the only woman there, she is easy to spot. The gym welcomes professionals as well as ordinary fitness fanatics.
It is in her quick reflexes and lightning-fast punches while shadow-boxing, in particular, that one sees how geared up she is to beat Graf.
“I have paid my dues by defending my South African title successfully five times,” she says during a break from her heavy workout.
“It will be time to give up my local belt after I beat Graf and lift the WBF crown.”
Nonina believes her fans will appreciate her need to relinquish the local belt to give herself a shot at campaigning for global honours.
“My supporters will have to understand that one has to move up the boxing ladder by going for world honours and not remaining stuck doing local fights only,” she says.
Nonina, who was born in Dutywa in the Eastern Cape, is so serious about this upcoming bout that she relocated to Johannesburg last month to shape up for it.
“My gym is based in Giyani in Limpopo, but my trainer, Emmanuel Neluoende, and I decided to prepare for the fight here in Johannesburg before spending the last week in Cape Town, where the tournament will take place,” says Nonina.
She starts her skipping regime, pausing only to tell us that she will be fighting an excellent opponent.
Graf is an experienced campaigner with 29 wins and five defeats from 34 outings.
Nonina has notched up 10 wins, three defeats and one loss from 14 bouts.
“My opponent is good, so I have to knock her out to win the WBF belt. I am going to do just that, which is why I am so busy here at the gym,” says Nonina.