Johannesburg - Ali “Rush Hour” Funeka (39) – the country’s second-oldest active professional boxer after Mzonke “Rose of Khayelitsha” Fana (43) – is in no rush to hang up his boxing gloves.
Two weeks ago, he suffered a second successive defeat in a world title fight in the space of eight months, at the hands of Samuel Vargas, by majority decision. The World Boxing Association fight for the North American Association welterweight championship was held at the Powerade Centre in Brampton, Canada.
Before then, he endured the ignominy of being stopped in the sixth round by Australian Jeff Horn for the World Boxing Organisation (WBO) intercontinental title championship in Queenstown, Australia, in December.
But the Eastern Cape-based Funeka feels he still has a lot more to offer boxing, despite being a spent force.
His career was tarnished by Tsiko “Cruel Junior” Mulovhedzi, who beat him in a fifth-round stoppage for the WBO title in Mdantsane in 2015. Since then, Rush Hour has not regained the sharpness that once made him one of the country’s most skilful welterweights.
“I am aware that age is no longer on my side, but I won’t retire just yet as I still have a lot more to offer the sport,” said Funeka, a veteran fighter with 39 wins, seven defeats and three draws from 49 bouts.
“I may be getting old, but my heart tells me I can slug it out in the ring for a few more years.”
Funeka said he spent most of his time motivating youngsters, and boxing is in his blood.
“I may have slowed down, but I feel I still have a lot more to offer in the ring. Those who say my career is finished must wait.”
About his latest defeat, he said he was robbed – the referee allowed Vargas to headbutt him often and did not dock the points.
But the father of two, who owns an amateur boxing stable in Mdantsane called Rush Hour Boxing Gym, fancies himself winning a fourth world championship soon.
He previously held the International Boxing Federation lightweight, the International Boxing Organisation welterweight and, more recently, the WBO diadems.
But Funeka has reached the end of the road and must join the list of the country’s former pugilists who quit because they were past their prime.
Former national heavyweight title holder Anton Nel called it quits 15 months ago at the age of 47.