South Africa: Historic Boxing Gym Closes Its Doors

To the sadness of boxing enthusiasts across the nation, the famous Eyethu boxing gym in the mecca of boxing, the Eastern Cape, has closed its doors for the last time.

The gym was formed by renowned trainer Mzimasi Mnguni, who afterwards became a manager and promoter. The gym, which was based in Mdantsane township, produced the first black boxer from South Africa to win the IBF junior featherweight title.

Welcome Ncita defied the odds by coming home with the title after beating Fabrice Benichou in Israel in 1990.

For many years the gym was a home to many talented young fighters, but in 2020 Mnguni fell ill with Covid-19 and passed away.

When none of his family stepped forward to run the business, its demise looked inevitable.

Vuyani Bungu, one of Mnguni’s fighters, said it is very sad to see the place collapsing.

“Bra Mzimasi poured his money and time into making sure that it was in good condition. Many youngsters flocked to the gym because they wanted to be trained to become future champions,” he said.

“It helped a great deal in keeping me focused instead of engaging in bad things.”

The retired boxer, whose record of 13 defences for his IBF junior featherweight is unblemished, pledged to convene a meeting with fellow veterans to see if they could come up with something.

“We can’t fold our hands when we know what this gym did to change our lives. Many boxers from Mdantsane got to find themselves under big lights all over the world because of Bra Mzimase,” said Bungu.