Johannesburg - Damien Durandt is optimistic that the arrival of Xolisani “Nomeva” Ndongeni as the newest member of his camp will encourage all his boxers to become champions.
The former International Boxing Organisation lightweight champion dumped his trainer, Colin Nathan, two weeks ago and joined Durandt after his erstwhile mentor failed to organise fights for him. They had been together since 2015, but parted ways acrimoniously after the promise of ring action did not come to fruition.
Ndongeni’s last fight was a points win over Juan García Méndez at Omega Products International in Corona, California, in November.
Voted the country’s best fighter last year, the move to join the 26-year-old Durandt came as a surprise to the boxing fraternity. Nomeva is a year older than his trainer, but is unperturbed at having a person younger than himself as a mentor.
On visiting Durandt at his stable at Linksfield Terrace Shopping Centre, situated north-east of Johannesburg, this week, we failed to find Ndongeni among the pugilists going through their paces. Durandt said his newbie was on holiday at home in Duncan Village in East London, and would catch up with the rest of his stablemates on his return this week.
Many would expect Durandt to still be devastated by the untimely death of his father, Nick “Mthakathi” Durandt, in a bike accident in Clarens, Free State, in April. But he opted to focus on how Nomeva’s presence had rubbed off on everyone else.
“I’ve got about 12 professional fighters in the gym. They are so motivated by Ndongeni joining us that I believe his presence will make them work hard and win big titles soon,” said Durandt, who obtained his training licence at the age of 14.
He said all his fighters looked up to Ndongeni as their role model and would try to emulate him by also being voted the country’s best boxers in the near future.
One of the top boxers in Durandt’s gym is Jackson Chauke, who was crowned Gauteng flyweight champion after beating Sibusiso Twani in the fifth round at the Kempton Park Civic Centre in July.
Other big names in the stable include cruiserweight Ilunga “Junior” Makabu, who was knocked out by Englishman Tony Bellew in the third round of their World Boxing Council cruiserweight fight at Goodison Park Stadium, Liverpool, in May last year.
“Makabu is due to fight Malawian Mussa Ajibu in Zimbabwe on August 25. Details of the bout will be released soon,” said Durandt.
The stable also prides itself on having Marcus Lebogo (junior welterweight), Augustin Matata (middleweight) and Ricky Tshabalala (super middleweight).
Durandt said the unexpected death of his famous father last year was quite tough on him.
“I needed to find my feet with regards to which promoters were really willing to work with me. I can safely say that Real Steel Promotions is close to me now,” he said.
He said he communicated with his father in spirit.
“I get my blessing from Nick each time before I start training my boxers. He is also happy for me to have Ndongeni as one of my boxers.”