Manny Fernandes: Trainer ExtraOrdinary
By Jeff Ellis

Whenever the subject of top trainers in South Africa comes up, the name Manny Fernandes is always amongst the top candidates mentioned. The 48 year-old Fernandes from the South of Johannesburg started his boxing career in Brixton in a gym across the road from where he lived.

Manny had a brief spell as an amateur boxer and also as an amateur trainer before joining the pro ranks. He and my brother Ron are close friends and joined my stable in the basement of a Mayfair Hotel.

Both Manny and Ron were quick learners and soon held their own as professional trainers. Manny fulfilled his dream and proved his success on his own. I smile whenever he achieves, for I had a hand in teaching him.

Manny is ambitious and tells me that he will one day be the best trainer in South Africa. After we parted, he certainly became a serious contender for top honours and went on to win a Boxing SA Trainer of the year Award, with his ability to take a fighter from zero to hero.

Humble enough to ask for advice from anyone he could learn from. He is a dedicated trainer; he built an additional gym at his home while his Wembley Gym is undergoing repair work, not to have any disruptions for his fighters.

Manny mentions how he misses the late Terry Pettifer who was always there to “advise and teach me the finer points of boxing”. He says that if Terry had trained fighters he would have made many world champions. Terry drummed into me “always remember that a jabber does not like to be jabbed, a mover does not like to fight a mover, whatever strong point your opposition has – take him on!” We can all relate to that, Terry was special in more ways than one.

Manny and Gert Strydom have forged a unique bond as trainers. Although now in separate training camps, whenever necessary, they call on each other for support. Saturday March 26, 2011 will be documented as a history making event for Manny and two of his fighters, Takalani Ndlovu and Thompson Mokwana. Takalani captured the IBF junior featherweight belt and Thompson won the South African lightweight title. Both wins are success stories.

Takalani first laid claim to the South African featherweight title on May 31, 2002 nine years ago when he beat Anthony Tshehla on a first round knockout. In succession he has won the IBO , WBF and IBF belts. His third fight with Molitor is witness to Manny’s ability as a trainer.

Takalani’s first attempt at the IBF belt held by Molitor was on July 14, 2007 ending with a loss by TKO in the 9th round. Takalani’s trainer at the time was his father Stanley. Almost 3 years later on March 27, 2010 the rematch with Molitor also ended in defeat. His trainer at the time was Nick Durandt. The third fight under the guidance of Manny is history.

There has always been rivalry between trainer Nick Durandt and Manny. “Nick lifts me” says Manny, “He is good for the game, I go the extra mile when our fighters clash or when there’s a point to prove, ask Nick”

Who would have thought that Thompsom Mokwana had even the slightest chance of beating long reigning champion Patrick Malinga? But there you have it a new SA lightweight champion.

Manny’s son Richard (a useful fighter himself) plays a big part in the BRD stable and I hope he decides to fight again. The Fernandes family have cemented their name within the boxing fraternity.