By Sphumelele Ndlovu, Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism and Media Studies student
Alec Mullins Sports Hall was ablaze in a flurry of activity on the evening of 21 September for Purple Glove Promotions Fight Night. The event saw boxers from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), Joza fight clubs, and the Rhodes University MMA and Boxing clubs, challenge each other in the name of charity.
Matthew de Barros and his classmates Tefo Matsheka, Asa Ndzabe and Eryn Page organised the event as part of their Postgraduate Diploma in Enterprise Management (PDEM). “We had amazing support from the Grahamstown community, including Mr Thabang Hlalele from the Department of Arts and Culture, Sports and Recreation,” de Barros explained. “He took us to all the clubs around Grahamstown to start the match-making. This involved meeting with all the clubs in Joza as well as the SANDF.”
According to de Barros, the response from the Joza clubs was so significant, they decided to include some junior fights as well.
Purple Glove Promotions, which is the name the group goes by, also received immense support from the Rhodes Business School in the form of expertise and funds and even received personal aid from Senior Lecturer Evert Knoesen. “He helped us secure the venue and deal with many unforeseen issues…there is absolutely no way this event would have happened without the help of Mr Knoesen,” de Barros said.
The group was also assisted by Mfuzo’s MACABO club, who provided them with fighters, gear, referees and judges. Mfuzo was commended for his great work in promoting Grahamstown through boxing and for his great work in uplifting the community. “Mfuzo does so much for the boxing community around Grahamstown, and he was the one who helped us with the necessary knowledge to successfully host this event,” de Barros stated. MACABO partnered with Rhodes University’s Department of Human Kinetics and Ergonomics in 2016, to give students within the department an opportunity to get involved in service learning.
The funds raised at the event will be donated to both Jehovah Jireh Haven, a home for vulnerable children, and the Rhodes Business School Alpha Project Bursary, which provides bursaries to students who have academic merit but need financial assistance. According to Rhodes University, “The Bursary is the result of a 2017’s PDEM students’ project group, who set out to demonstrate their entrepreneurial leadership skills by raising funds for future PDEM students.”
Zolani Ngwenya, an Honours student who was in the audience said, “This was an innovative way to raise funds, especially because we never get to see boxing on campus.”
That very fact, according to de Barros, was how the idea for a fight night was born. “Rugby has an internal league, cricket has the RIPL, but there is no event that showcases boxing within the University,” he explained.
Another great thing about this event, according to de Barros, is how it has brought everyone together. “The bringing together of a diverse range of people is what really made this event special – there was a positive shared goal everyone was striving towards and the feeling of unity was overwhelming,” said de Barros.
De Barros indicated that although most of the members of Purple Glove Promotions are leaving Rhodes University, they hope someone else will take this incentive over and make a regular thing of it. “We need this for both the community and the boxers. If we can find people with a passion for boxing that can run similar events on an ongoing basis, we will happily hand over all our documents, contacts and expertise to them.”
Many people don’t realise that there is a thriving boxing culture in the Eastern Cape and within Grahamstown, said de Barros. “The boxers from Joza never had an opportunity to show off their talent to the University community until now. This concept works because it created awareness about the various local clubs, as well as showcasing how good these boxers are at their sport, regardless of background.”