Johannesburg - Former World Boxing Council (WBC) world middleweight champion Thulani “Sugarboy” Malinga has teamed up with charity Afrika Tikkun to transfer his boxing knowledge and skills to youngsters in Alexandra township, Johannesburg.
Malinga (62) is also a health and fitness ambassador for Afrika Tikkun community centres. He says he wants to use boxing as a tool to develop youngsters and nurture future stars of the sport.
The project will start in Alexandra and the plan is to take it to other Afrika Tikkun centres.
The organisation seeks to provide education, health and social services to young people and their families. It has four centres in Gauteng and one in Cape Town.
Malinga runs his Sugarboy Boxing Academy in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal. He said he was happy to be given an opportunity to share his boxing knowledge and skills to make a difference in people’s lives.
“It’s something close to my heart. It is important to educate our youngsters that boxing is not about hurting others, but that it is a disciplined sport one can make a career out of,” he said.
“Growing up, I was an aggressive child, but, through boxing, I became a disciplined sportsman who went on to conquer the world.
“Boxing shaped me to be the responsible father I am today,” said the two-time WBC middleweight world champion.
During his illustrious career, the former South African lightweight champion fought the best in the world, including Chris Eubank, Roy Jones Jr and Nigel Benn.
His boxing tenure spanned over 20 years, during which he won the WBC crown twice and a World Boxing Federation belt.
Malinga’s mission is to produce world champions through this initiative.
He said he intended to work with other former boxers to make sure the project was a success.
The youngsters who showed promise would get the opportunity to train at his academy. Plans were at an advanced stage to open another branch in Gauteng.
“We hope to attract youth in big numbers. Those who show potential and want to make boxing a career will join the academy. Our aim is to produce world champions through this project,” he said.
Malinga plans to become a promoter in the near future.
Afrika Tikkun’s sports development manager, Thomas Taole, said he was pleased that the project had taken off, and said that Malinga was the right man for the job.
“We tried it a decade ago, but did not succeed. We are happy to have someone like Malinga, who has the interests of boxing at heart, on board,” Taole said.