By: Thandiwe Kubere

Lesotho’s team of boxers ignited the nations pride and sense of joy, continually raising the country’s flag amongst nations and bringing medals home.

This happened at International Convention Centre (ICC) in Durban, where the inaugural Mandela African Boxing Cup 2024 was held. Organized by the African Boxing Confederation (AFBC) and the South African Boxing Organization (SANABO), the tournament took place on April 17th – 21st 2024.

The tournament featured 12 women’s and 13 men’s weight categories from 24 African Countries. The prize fund for the Cup was M9,560, 957.50 . The boxers learned their first rivals following the official draw.

The opening ceremony was held on April 15th to kick off a huge celebration of boxing on the continent.

Bronze medalist Fusi Seholoholo shares that team Lesotho was represented by six men and six women, making the total number 12.

Day 1, two boxers were defeated.

On day 2, two male boxers were victorious, taking them to the next round, while two female boxers were defeated by their opponents.

Day 3 was in no favor of the country as one female boxer got defeated.

Day 4, three female and two male boxers who were in the semi-finals lost against their rivals and got bronze medals while two male boxers triumphed to the final round.

Retselisitsoe Kolobe from Lesotho defeated Botswana’s Kobamelo Molatlhegi in the men’s 48kg contest. He continually played well, placing himself as a gold medalist.

The Mandela African Boxing Cup also saw victories for Botswana, Egypt, Tunisia, Angola, Namibia and Bangladesh.

Roberts OBE, from International Boxing Association (IBA), stresses that Nelson Mandela’s legacy continues through boxing.

The Mandela African Boxing Cup is named after the anti-apartheid activist-turned President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela who stood for peace and harmony.

Mandela trained in boxing during his time in prison during apartheid South Africa, calling the sport “egalitarian”, as it allows people of all backgrounds to compete.

IBA President Umar Kremlev remarks his delight for bringing the Mandela African Boxing Cup to the home nation of the great South African leader, Nelson Mandela.

He notes Mandela’s message of peace and togetherness is echoed through involvement in sport. And that, during his hardest hours, boxing was a constant positive for him, providing discipline and resilience.

Some of the figures who honored the the tournament include World Championships medalists Alcinda Dos Santos and Rady Gramane from Mozambique.

Ndileka Mandela, Founder and CEO of Thembekile Mandela Foundation, in support of the tournament, declares sports serve as a universal language, bridging gaps between people from diverse backgrounds.

During the apartheid-era South Africa, boxing emerged as a popular sport choice, particularly in the Eastern Cape.

“Let’s unite and pursue our dream of a united Africa relentlessly – don’t let the passage of time deter you from achieving your goals”, she says.

According to IBA inaugural, Mandela African Boxing Cup coincides with South Africa’s commemoration of 30 years of freedom and democracy since the historic election of 27 April 1994.

As the people of South Africa celebrate the gains, achievements, and the milestone of 30 years of democratic rule and living in a free and democratic society, the national boxing community would like to highlight its own gains, and achievements as far as the sport is developed in the country since 1994.