HALALA
14/05/2018 07:49 SAST | Updated 14/05/2018 07:49 SAST

Boxing Club Keeps Kids Off The Streets

“On a Friday night they are going to taverns. By 15 years old, if you do not have a child, that is unlikely.”

Zandspruit is a little township near Roodepoort where only the strong-minded will survive.

Girls as young as 12 are already indulging in alcohol, because there is very little guidance for the young people in this area.

"On a Friday night they are going to taverns. By 15 years old, if you do not have a child, that is unlikely," according to Micheal Mapfunde.

Mapfunde is one of the founders of a boxing club that aims to keep youngsters off the streets.

The children are taught all the basics of boxing every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in a dilapidated tent with a cement floor.

Queenin Masuabi
Nkosi Phendule teaches boxing to youngsters in Zandspruit, helping them avoid the many social ills around them.

Njabulo Mdungwa is a 12-year-old who has really enjoyed learning how to box in the club. She says it stops her from falling into the vicious cycle of alcohol and drug abuse.

"Other girls in this community, they drink, they smoke and they go to taverns, so I want a better life," she said.

"I think that many things that I am doing are better than what other girls are doing — sometimes when I go to training, others don't come because they want to go with boys somewhere."

Her family has given her the chance to prove that boxing is a good idea, even for a girl.

"First time my dad was surprised; then I said maybe it is going to be my career. My mum said they must let me do it, until they see what is going to happen."

Mdungwa wants boxing to be her career, although she also wants to study towards being a teacher or doctor. She believes she can help her community overcome many challenges.

"[Zandspruit] is not a good community, but we can make it a good community by helping it and taking kids [off] the street," Mdungwa said.

I want a future champion here in Zandspruit – people know Zandspruit as a useless place.

Nkosi Phendule is the coach of the club, and he says teaching children to box is not only about the sport, but teaching them life skills.

"The kids here they are different, so I have to understand them; where they come from," he told HuffPost at a practice session.

He says he has seen a change with the children.

"They enjoy the training. Boxing is not just a sport; even outside, you can defend yourself. The kids now are open. I teach them how to work as a team; that is why they keep on coming," he said.

He wants to produce a boxing champion to change the mindset of the community.

"I want a future champion here in Zandspruit — people know Zandspruit as a useless place." And he intends to change that...