Boxing Snippets

Confident Mtolo aiming for happy hat-trick.

The odds are good that the hardest working man on June 15 will be Vusi Mtolo.
The veteran boxing trainer, now in his twenty-third year of working the corner, will be doing duty with three different boxers on the big “No Mercy” bill at Emperors Palace.
It will require heaps of energy and planning, not that Mtolo is daunted by the prospect. Being busy is what every trainer craves; it helps pay the bills and offers validation that they must be doing something right.
“I’m busy and it’s not easy,” he says of next month’s challenge. “All my boys face tough opponents, guys who are coming in fit and tough. There are no short-notice fights . . . everyone will arrive in great shape. But I understand the sport. My boxers never have it easy. They are all 100 percent fit and understand everything that is required. I will ensure it’s all good on the day. I’ve no doubt: three fights, three wins.”
Mtolo doesn’t do smack talk, but he’s also no shrinking violet. As a self-assured 51-year-old who knows the ropes, he back himself unreservedly. “I’m not just a trainer, I’m the best trainer,” he says confidently, pointing to his work with Ricardo Malajika, who became a world champion under his tutelage.
“If Roarke [Knapp[ wins, he’ll be my other world champion,” he says of Knapp’s IBO title bid against Jorge Garcia Perez of Mexico.
Mtolo is high on Knapp, labelling him “world class”.
“He trains so hard and can’t mess up this opportunity, not in the best division in boxing. Everyone must respect Roarke and me. I’m the best trainer, and Roarke is the best of the best.”
Sharing top billing next month will be fellow junior-middleweight Shervantaigh Koopman, who is matched tough against Wendy Toussaint, the Haitian sensation who boxes out of New York.
Mtolo reckons Koopman is a pleasure to work with because his deep amateur background taught him the fundamentals and helped develop a natural understanding of the fight game. “He understands all types of fighters, which makes the job easy for me. If I say something, he never complains. He’s like a young baby.
“His father [assistant trainer] Charlton helps me a lot too. Come the 15th, people will see his talent. He has the best defence, and is a world class boxer. I’m not scared for any of my boxers. Their hands will be raised next month.”
It’s a confidence that extends to Beaven Sibanda, the third of his fighters who will be appearing under the lights at Emperors.
“He’s very special,” he says of the man who has come to be known as the “Flame of Zimbabwe”.
Sibanda is matched against Siphamandla Baleni, the veteran who will present a stern challenge.
He says that Baleni has never been down, but warns that Sibanda will be packing dynamite in his gloves.
“He’ll be teaching the big boys boxing,” warns Mtolo. “We aren’t scared of any guy.”
The affable trainer won’t be motivated purely by winning. He says he will be driven by the need to make promoter Rodney Berman happy.
“He changed my life and I must thank him.”
Three wins will be the perfect way of doing so.


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Back to top button