Lunga Sitemela brings hope to boxers across Mzansi
CAPE TOWN – “Dreams do come true, and here is living proof of that.”
These were the words of renowned Cape Town boxing coach, Emil Brice referring to his champion fighter, Lunga Sitemela – who stood beside him during a recent interview with Independent Media.
South Africa’s Lunga (13-0) will fight on one of the biggest boxing stages when he takes on Tajikistan’s Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (16-0) for the World Boxing Council’s International Super Featherweight title this Saturday in Yekaterinburg, Russia.
A WBC title is as prestigious as it can get for boxers and can only open bigger doors for athletes. But the message that Lunga carries is far bigger than just that of money and fame.
“The big thing is, Lunga brings hope,” says his conditioning coach and trainer, Allan Dillon.
“We have a lot of youngsters out there still in the amateur ranks that maybe want to turn professional one day, there are also many professionals who look at Lunga, the coaching team (Emil and myself) and the structures in place at Brice Boxing Gym, and that inspires them. If we work well as a team, with the support of administrators in South African boxing, then we can prove that we can box at a higher level, which will benefit everybody … ‘A rising tide lifts all ships’ … and Lunga’s legacy is going to be that he inspired hope in his people, in his club, province and country,” says Allan.
Through his hard work, Lunga (also the African Boxing Union king) too has echoed the words of former South African president and father of our nation, Nelson Mandela, proving that sport has the power to change the world and to inspire people.
“It means a lot to me,” says Lunga - originally from the small town of Dordrecht in the Eastern Cape, before moving to Philippi, Cape Town.
He understands that this fight could literally change his life and inspire so many kids in Philippi and Dordrecht.
“My team and I, we have all been working hard, my coaches have been working me hard for us to be where we are today. We are looking forward to this fight,” says the man known as the ‘Pressure Cooker’.
“Julian, we have been working toward this goal for seven years now, it's been a hard and long road through the amateurs to the pros where Mr Dillon helped and joined me,” says coach Emil.
“We make a formidable team, we’ve turned Lunga into a different animal, people are going to see a different Lunga this time, people are going to witness history. Lunga is going to leave everything in that ring. We will bring that title home to South Africa,” adds coach Emil.
Lunga’s fight will be the build-up bout to the WBC Silver Cruiser Title fight between South Africa’s Thabiso “The Rock” Mchunu (22-5) and Russia’s Olympic gold medalist, Evgeny Tishchenko (8-0).
Another South African will feature on the card with veteran Koos Sibiya (23-14) taking on Ukraine’s up-and-coming athlete, Zoravor Petrosian (10-0).
SuperSport Variety 3 will cross to Ekaterinburg at 7.40pm on Saturday for the live action.
So be sure to tune in if you can and watch Lunga work his dreams into reality.