Boxing Snippets

Champion book tells a champion story

Ron Jackson with his labour of love.

Anyone who has been around South African boxing will know Ron Jackson.

The silver-haired historian has been a mainstay at tournaments for over 50 years, drawn as much by the action as the great characters and stories that shape boxing.

To call him a fan would be to do him a disservice. He’s an aficionado, steeped in the lore of the sport and driven by the passions and punches that abound. He’s seen it all and endured the highs and the lows, all the while confirming a reputation as a sage of the sport.

For over 10 years he has been pulling together information, having trawled through libraries, scrapbooks and old newspapers, all in a bid to write the definitive history of SA boxing. Two weeks ago, his noble attempt to tell this great story was given life when “Champions”, an illustrated encyclopaedia of SA boxing, was published.

It’s a joyous celebration of local boxing, from the time of James Couper’s SA heavyweight title win in 1889 to the modern day and heroes such as Hekkie Budler, Vuyani Bungu and Dingaan Thobela.

It’s a big book, as it must be. It reflects the record of every national champion, not an easy job given that there is no official data base. Instead, Jackson and his friend, internationally renowned record keeper Andre de Vries, went to work to dig up the details on the fighters, many of them obscure and long dead.

The book tells the tale of SA boxing in a way that captures the unique history, not least that of black boxing which was scandalously neglected by any number of writers and administrators through the years.

It’s been a labour of love for the octogenarian who continues to be drawn to the sport he has loved since he was a boy.

“It’s been back-breaking work, but I love it,” he says. “Boxing has given me so much through the years. This is my attempt to give something back. I believe I have done a great story the justice it deserves.”

Anyone who wants to get their hands on the book can contact Ron directly at 078 507 2603.

At R300, it’s a steal.

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