Having cried off women’s boxing in the wake of Laila Ali’s 56-second destruction of Gwendolyn O’Neil at Emperors Palace a dozen years ago, Rodney Berman has decided to take a tentative step back with South Africa’s top woman fighter.
“It’s true,” said Berman of rumours linking him to Noni Tenge (18-1-1), who has held several titles and has never tasted defeat against a local opponent.
“With just five fights in the past four years, it’s scandalous she has been so inactive. I’ll be breaking tradition by headlining her at Emperors in February, but if anyone deserves a chance, it’s Noni.”[perfectpullquote align=”left” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]’If anyone deserves a chance, it’s Noni’ – Berman[/perfectpullquote]
Golden Gloves has signed the WBC’s number one welterweight, unbeaten Lolita Muzeya (15-0) of Zambia, to fight her continental rival in what shapes as an intriguing, entertaining fight between two major African stars.
Notwithstanding her talent, Tenge’s career has been blighted by mismanagement, which she railed against in a major interview last year. Indeed, twice she was stripped of championships for inactivity, giving rise to immense frustration. She tried to kickstart her career by moving from her East London hometown to Port Elizabeth, but her development has been only sporadic and her ambition of fighting Cecelia Braekhuis, the pound-for-pound queen, has come to nought.
“She’s 36, so there isn’t much time,” admitted Berman. “But if she looks the part next year, she’ll go on to bigger things.”
She’s already hooked up with trainer Peter Smith, who looks after the fortunes of Kevin Lerena and Rowan Campbell, and should get the kickstart her talent deserves.
Golden Gloves will be linking her first appearance in Joburg in 10 years to Operation Smile, the non-profit, volunteer based, international medical organisation that helps provide free surgeries for children and young adults in developing countries who are born with cleft lip, cleft palate or other facial deformities.