Let’s give them a fighting chance

Hanover Park Boxing Clubs Nasrullah Nazier in a pensive mood before stepping in to the ring at the Cape Town Metro Open Boxing Organisations district junior and youth championships, in Philippi, at the weekend.

“I train seven days a week, two hours a day, indoors and outdoors, at the club and at home. I run a few kilometres a day with my dad but he’s been complaining about his knees lately,” the youngster said jokingly.

Although pleased with his son’s performance thus far, Nazier believes it’s important to remain grounded and not become cocky too quickly. “We were not sure if he was ready but he did okay. At our club tournament, in June, people saw him fight for the first time and already I’ve received calls from three or four trainers who would like to work with him.”

However, Nazier prefers not to rush things, saying the idea is to keep his son in the amateur ranks for as long as possible so he may have a chance to qualify to compete at the Commonwealth Games and possibly even at the Olympics.

“He’ll be 18 by the time the 2020 Olympics comes around, so we’ll be working towards that.

“I don’t mind if he loses along the way. It’ll keep him from becoming big-headed,” he said.

With 400 amateur fights and four professional bouts under his belt, he knows a thing or two about a good work ethic.

Like his son, he also grew up in Hanover Park and growing up in a tough neighbourhood means having to make tough choices, he said.

“I started boxing at the age of 15, here in Hanover Park, but trained in Langa, at a little church, close to the station,” he said.

“I remember running to Langa almost every day, to train there at a time when the sport, much like everything else in our country was separated along racial lines,” he said.

Nazier, who is also the chairperson of the Hanover Park Civic Association, said he turned professional at 19, losing one out of four fights as a pro before hanging up his gloves due to circumstances.

But he never lost interest in the sport, believing it could be used as a vehicle to promote positive change among young people. About five years ago he founded a like-minded soul in ward councillor Antonio van der Rheede.

This led to the establishment of the Hanover Park Boxing Club at the Lansport community sports complex, where Nazier is the facility manager.

An avid community worker, Nazier took on the role of coach, mentor and, in some cases, father to 45 youngsters who train there.

Van der Rheede, who is also sub-council chairman, acts as the club president and says he sees boxing a tool to serve youth at risk.

“We can create our own champions like Nasrullah and I’d like to encourage other councillors to support similar initiatives in their wards. Some are already doing so with great results,” he said. “I see boxing as a way of addressing some of the problems in our community.

“Our children are resilient and full of energy but we need to harness that energy in a good way. Boxing can be used to channel some of that energy and help to build confidence and self-esteem.

Hanover Park Boxing Club has free training sessions on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, at the community centre, in Lansport Road, from 3pm to 5.30pm.

For more information, call Igshaan Nazier on 061 636 8224.

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