"Not one promoter, especially the men, gave us a chance back then, because they did not believe in women. I took a chance with these girls and the other promoters did not even bother to compete because they thought it would be a non-starter.
"Interestingly enough, today most of our male promoters are featuring female fighters in their tournaments. They can see it is really taking off!"
When Mbali started off as a boxing promoter back in 2003, she focused only on female boxing, but she soon realised that she wasn’t able to fund these fights with only amateur female boxers at her disposal.
The following year she went full force and promoted males so she could feature females in her tournaments and that’s how they got the exposure for these women and she hasn’t looked back since then.
Mbali says women’s boxing in South Africa can further improve if:
- More women are given an opportunity to fight;
- Women boxers are marketed and branded well;
- There are more development tournaments;
- More girls turn professional so there is a pool of girls to fight against each other; and
- Promoters feature at least one or two bouts of women’s boxing in their tournaments.
In fact, Mbali’s hard work, and the efforts of South Africa’s top rated boxer, Noni Tenge, has already seen women’s boxing grow from strength to strength.
In 2007, women’s boxing turned professional, giving the sport a much needed boost, and allowing women to sincerely believe that they could make a career out of boxing.
Noni told gsport: "It will come a time when people will realise that there is something about women. We’re not supposed to only stay in the kitchen, doing the cooking, so our family can eat. I didn’t realise that I would be here today. But I can see that people respect me for what I do. I first took it as a hobby but now I am a champion.
To improve boxing in South Africa, it must start at an early age; at primary school, from grade one to grade 8, from grade 8 to the higher level. At school, they must be taught boxing too, not just running. The teachers must encourage these children.
These days, women can earn anything from R1,000-R10,000, if they win a professional fight, depending on their opponent.
If female boxing sounds like something that interests you, adapted for gsport from advice published at EzineArticles.com, to get you started:
- Get in Shape: It’s best to be in fair- to good physical shape before getting into a boxing routine, as it is a physically demanding sport. You will need to focus on a mix of strength building routines and cardio workouts for the best results.
- Learn the Basics: Boxing looks fairly simple, but it’s easy to get your feet tied in knots, and your arms unsure of whether to jab or to hook! A correct body position is essential, and your position will change whether you are right- or left-handed. You may be able to find a boxing gym in your area, where you can learn necessities like safety techniques, rules, and positioning from trained professionals.
- Watch a Match: There’s quite a lot of boxing on TV, but nothing beats going to a live match to get acclimatized. Note how the women move in the ring, how the referee regulates the encounter, and how matches progress. Stepping through the ropes is a great feeling, but you may want to see someone do it before trying it yourself.
- Decide on a Level of Involvement: You may only want to try out ‘boxercise’ classes, you may want to fight at amateur level, or you may consider yourself good enough to make a living from boxing. There are various levels of involvement, so make sure you’re clear on your goals.
- Find Female Boxing Communities: Though female boxing has only recently gained acceptance in South Africa, many gyms are keen to include women boxers. You may prefer to seek out a female boxing group, where you’re likely to be more comfortable.