As nationwide lockdown restrictions ease in Level 1, many are looking forward to more sports and entertainment events on the horizon – albeit with necessary Covid-19 safety regulations in place. Ugu South Coast Tourism (USCT) is excited to use this opportunity to build on its reputation as a key sports’ destination, with Ugu Sports and Leisure Centre in Gamalakhe Township near Port Shepstone the perfect backdrop for such tourist-driven initiatives. And first on the agenda is the upcoming boxing tournament - ‘KO COVID’ - organised by Lightning Boxing Promotion, Syathaba Boxing Promotion and Uhuru Sport Production (Joint Venture) in partnership with the KZN Department of Sport and Recreation.
“With our dedicated local organisers, wonderful venues and world-class facilities like Ugu Sports and Leisure Centre – built for the 2010 World Cup - it’s no surprise that the KZN South Coast has fast become one of the region’s key sports’ tourism destinations,” said CEO of Ugu South Coast Tourism (USCT), Phelisa Mangcu. “We are looking forward to hosting yet another important tournament that gives us an opportunity to showcase the region’s many offerings, for both sports’ enthusiasts and supporters alike. As the official destination management organisation for the area, USCT keeps all local tourism establishments updated on the latest Covid-19 protocols to ensure visitor safety is prioritised.”
In December last year, the KZN South Coast was the chosen venue for the local TSA (Tennis South Africa) Seniors Tour, a national tennis contest which is a qualifier for the World Championships. Alongside the established sports’ facilities, the region is renowned for its unmatched natural resources and outdoor venues that have seen it play host to national sporting attractions such as the South Coast Fever MTB & Trail Run Series, Senior Women’s Golf Nationals as well as forming part of the annual Sani2C and joberg2C competitions. Throughout the year, visitors compete in a range of sporting contests at both an amateur and professional level, ranging from cycling, tennis and bowling, through to water-based sports - surfing, stand-up paddling and fishing.
The upcoming boxing tournament is set to put another notch on the KZN South Coast’s sporting belt, with renowned boxing promoters choosing the region for its top-quality facilities. The tournament is taking place on Sunday, 21 March at Ugu Sport and Leisure Centre in Port Shepstone, with the main bout seeing, Sanele Msimanga from Inchanga, taking on South Africa’s Number 3 boxer, Ripfumela Chikwambane of Gauteng (originally from Limpopo), in a fight for a chance to challenge for the South African title.
The main supporting bout will be female competitors Mapule Ngubane of Pietermaritzburg, the current South African middleweight champion of Umgungundlovu district and Razel Mohammed, of Nelson Mandela Bay and Port Elizabeth. Local boxer, Phikelelani Dlamini, will also feature in this, his second professional fight, and first fight in Port Shepstone. Also on the bill is WBF All Africa Champion, Sanele Magwaza, who is set to take on Jozini ‘s Siyabonga Mpngela.
“We are very excited that Ugu District and Ray Nkonyeni Municipality will be hosting this event as it will provide significant support for the sport within the province,” explained Nhlakanipho Gumede of Uhuru Sport Production. “We hope that, through this tournament, prospective young boxers from the district will get the chance to learn more about the sport and consider it as a profession. And, considering the boxing level of the two headline competitors, this is expected to be a really great fighting spectacle.”
Mike Dube, KZN Boxing Provincial Manager, said: “We, as Boxing South Africa, are grateful to KZN Department of Sport and Recreation for coming on board and fully supporting us during these difficult times. The tournament is dubbed ‘KO COVID’ because we want to stand in solidarity with those who have lost loved ones, and we applaud the promoters for standing up against this disease which can be fought and won.”
Dube said that, hosting the tournament in Ugu district is particularly important for him: “When I was appointed to this position in November 2020, I promised to take boxing to all the districts of KwaZulu-Natal and now, Ugu is hosting its first professional event. We are determined to host many more. Ugu Leisure Centre is a beautiful facility and we hope it becomes a regular boxing venue.”
According to Boxing South Africa, no spectators will be allowed to attend the event under current Covid-19 regulations.