“If he doesn’t become a world champion, I’ll become a tennis coach.” – This was the frank response of trainer Colin Nathan to signing new charge Xolisani Ndongeni, who joined his HotBox stable last week.
The 24-year-old is little-known beyond the confines of the Eastern Cape, but he is one of the hottest prospects on the domestic scene. Not only is the SA lightweight unbeaten in 17 fights, he recently captured the PBL title and has beaten prominent boxers like Grant Fourie, Patrick Malinga and Thompson Mokwana.
“This kid is so good, just a natural talent with great skills,” enthused Nathan. “He can box, he can fight and is very good defensively. He has decent power and plenty of charisma. East London fans worship him.”
The emergence of Ndongeni is a significant boost for local boxing, which has been crying out for world class talent. In a five-year pro career, Ndongeni hasn’t put a foot wrong. He has been matched tough, but come through every test on his way to capturing the SA lightweight title from Mokwana last year.
Speaking in the gym on Monday, Ndongeni was thrilled to have made the move. “It’s a big step, but I feel great. I’m going to give it my all,” he said. “I needed to make a switch to someone like Colin, to take the next step up.”
Proof that he is a natural talent is evident because he first boxed at the advanced age of 17. He had 40-odd amateur fights, highlighted with a bronze medal at the SA Games. Growing up, he had no boxing idols, but nowadays he looks up to the likes of Floyd Mayweather jnr and Manny Pacquiao.
Obviously linking up with Golden Gloves is no bad thing and Ndongeni has already met with Rodney Berman.
The promoter knows a good thing when he sees it. “He’s a fighter I have watched and reckon he can go as far as Vuyani Bungu or Welcome Ncita,” said Berman. “In his own right he can become a drawcard like Dingaan Thobela with his talent and charisma.”
Ndongeni’s Johannesburg debut will come on June 6 when he fights at Emperors Palace in a challenge for the WBA Pan-Africa belt, after which Berman will look to showcase him in the US and England.
Watch this space!