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Best Choices in each Category - by Terry Pettifer

This writer’s ink-stained observations, gleaned from 34 years as a ringside analyst, has earned me as many brickbats as plaudits, and though my skin has notably thickened –along with the Pettifer waistline- I refuse to become intimidated by those who feel that their efforts were impressionable enough to command a higher standing. One such personality, who happens to be a retired pug, recently phoned me after reading my ratings of South Africa’s ‘Top 10’ light heavyweights in African Ring and if the four-letter words he uttered were grunge I could arguably have fortified a sewer. Your scribe’s embarrassment was worsened by the fact that one of my literary colleagues, who happened to be seated next to me at the time, heard every muck festering insult first hand.

The late Reg Haswell was a boxing raconteur par-excellence, and he often
counseled me on the naivety of fighters, particularly of the less talented variety.
“Boxers and writers are natural enemies,” said the Cockney-reared Haswell. “When you compliment their efforts they seldom respond, but criticize them and you’ll be told what an ass…. you are and how little you know about boxing. This is especially true of over glorified third-raters”

Forsooth, while my disgruntled caller was hardly an ‘over glorified third-rater’,
his inclusion in my rankings caused quite a stir amongst those old enough to recall
his limitations. “He was a hit-and-hope slugger with no semblance of class,” said one caustic critic. “I’m surprised you included him at all,” said another, who was
obviously upset that one of his relatives never figured in the ratings.

Most happily I know more than a little about boxing, and apart from an admitted
acceptance that my views, like anybody else’s may be contentious, I’m one essayist who won’t be bullied!

Ranging from mini flyweights to heavyweights, the Pettifer pen has been professionally commissioned to cover the ringside beat since 1975, during which time I’ve impertinently applauded, lamented, criticized and celebrated the contributions of fighters of all shapes and sizes. Numbered amongst the half-naked
warriors I’ve had the privilege to watch were some of the cream of this land’s
fighting stock.

Around the fringes I’ve had run-ins with promoters, trainers, officials, fellow writers, matchmakers and fighters alike and posterity will recall that I had the temerity to question and highlight some of the serious shortcomings of our erstwhile Boxing Board of Control, incurring the wrath of several administrators in the process.

It says here that a category analysis of the local athletes I’ve covered is a frequent
ask in many watering holes south of Johannesburg, and though I performed a similar task in my first book on boxing, No Punches Pulled (January 2000) a revised perusal has seen the introduction of only one newcomers to the list, …namely Lehlolonolo Ledwaba!.

I’m waiting for your phone calls fellas… but please, no swearing!

BEST ONE PUNCH HITTER: Kosie Smith * runner-up: Kallie Knoetze
MOST DURABLE: Pierre Fourie: *runner up: Jimmy Abbott
BEST KNOCKOUT SPECIALIST: Charlie Weir *runner up: Phillip Ndou
BEST RING STRATEGIST: Brian Mitchell *runner up: Pierre Fourie
BEST COUNTER PUNCHER: Jan Bergman *runner up: Harold Volbrecht
BEST DEFENCE: Gert Steyn *runner up: Pierre Fourie
BEST SOUTHPAW: Harold Volbrecht *runner up: Bushy Bester
BEST JABBER: Pierre Fourie *runner up: Brian Mitchell
BEST LEFT HOOK: Jan Bergman *runner up: Mike Schutte
BEST UPPERCUT: Dingaan Thobela *runner up: Kallie Knoetze
BEST RIGHT HAND: Gerrie Coetzee *runner up: Dingaan Thobela.
FASTEST HANDS: Peter Mathebula *runner up:Nkosana “Happyboy” Mgxaji
BEST FOOTWORK: Andries Steyn *runner up: Anthony Morodi
MOST NATURAL TALENT: Dingaan Thobela *runner up: Lehlohonolo Ledwaba
MOST TRICKY: Thulani “Sugarboy” Malinga *runner up: Mzukisi Sikali
MOST KILLER INSTINCT: Charlie Weir *runner up: Kallie Knoetze
MOST COLOURFUL: Kallie Knoetze *runner up: Johnny du Plooy
BEST BODY PUNCHER: Lehlohonolo Ledwaba * runner up: Kokkie Olivier
BEST CONDITIONED: Brian Mitchell * runner up: Pierre Coetzer
MOST COURAGEOUS: Bruce McIntyre * runner up: Pierre Coetzer
MOST GENTLEMANLY: Piet Crous * runner up: Thulani “Sugarboy” Malinga
BEST OVER ACHIEVER: Phillip Holiday * runner up: Francois Botha
BEST REFEREE: Stan Christodolou * runner up: Len Hunt
BEST BOXING WRITER: Chris Greyvenstein * runner up: Paul Irwin
BEST BOXING PROMOTER: Rodney Berman * runner up: Branco Milenkovic