JOHANNESBURG - “I am the War Child,” WBA Pan African featherweight champion Rofhiwa Maemu said at Lugogo Sun in Mbabane with a menacing stare and a deep voice that would make any opponent shake in their boots.
The Limpopo-born but Soweto-raised fighter shook off his weight mishap, weighing 250 grams more than the maximum of 57.153kg his division allows, on the eve of his title defence to make his Tanzanian challenger Haidari Mchanjo eat his words. Mchanjo boasted that he would knock Maemu out in the sixth round of their bout in Fox Sports’ Africa Boxing event.
But the Tanzanian lasted half of those rounds, throwing in the towel after just three rounds against the powerful Maemu who pounded the insolence out of Mchanjo at the Royal Swazi Spa Convention Centre in Swaziland on Friday night .
“Each and every time I get into the ring you mustn’t expect the (Floyd) Mayweather thing (of being defensive, ducking and diving). No! It’s war in there,” Maemu said. “You’ve got to be ready for war when you step up against me. That’s why I asked whether he is even going to last until the sixth round after he said that’s when he will knock me out. I am something else. I know that I am not skilful but I know my job. I know what I need to do.”
Being aware of his shortcomings pushes Maemu to power past his challenges by making the most of his strengths. The 26-year-old had a rough upbringing with an abusive father and an absent mother. His late older sister Dakalo raised the man nicknamed “War Child”.
“I grew up in the real Soweto, a real rough hood not this touristy one that people see nowadays,” Maemu said. “There was a lot of poverty and violence. I had to overcome that. I am not that stylish as a boxer. I am not that skilful but I can fight. Wherever I see that there is legal bread for me, I go there and I fight to win because I don’t want to go back where I come from.”
Fight Night ends in success for 'War Child' Maemu and disappointment for Tanzanian 'Blue Fire' Mchanjo as the referee stopped the bout two minutes and 30 seconds into the third round.
The WBA Pan African Featherweight Title stays in South Africa 🇿🇦 🏆 #AfricaBoxing pic.twitter.com/bGTZSbJyye
Maemu is trained by Alan Toweel junior in a sport that has not only helped him live a better life but has also offered him therapy to punch away his anger. But the menacing boxer in the ring is a friendly, funny and respectful character out of it.
“I grew up in the sport. Boxing is what I know,” Maemu said. “I came to a point whereby in life I asked myself where do I go because I don’t have anything else that I know. I decided to pick this sport because this is what I know. This is just what I do. I am a fighter, not just in boxing but also in my own life.
"I have fought a lot of challenges to be where I am. I am always ready for anything because of my tough upbringing. You come here and tell me that you are going to knock me out, great for you but doing it is something else. I am called War Child for a reason, I am not to be messed with in the ring.”