Berman signs Munyai - by Terry Pettifer

The Golden Gloves Promotional Empire is about to expand, and according to consortium CEO Rodney Berman, the acquisition of Tshifhiwa “Atomic Spider” Munyai (18-1-1), who is one of the most exciting young fighters in South Africa at present, will substantially bolster his stable for 2010.

“Munyai is trained by one of our erstwhile mentors, Elias Tshabalala, and I’ve no doubt that he has the potential to win a world title” said Berman.

Experts will recall that the experienced Tshabalala resurrected the flagging career of Dingaan Thobela, and against all odds, steered the “Rose of Soweto” to the WBC super middleweight title. Moreover, insofar as coaching expertise is concerned, Tshabalala is one of the most respected trainers in the country, and as Berman said, “It’s great to have our ‘Prodigal Son’ back in the fold”.

The 24-year-old Munyai stunned the boxing world in June 2006 when, with a record of 10-0-1, he left the country for the first time to box abroad against England’s Martin Power for the vacant Commonwealth bantamweight crown. Although Power came into that contest with an unblemished record of 19-0 and was the holder of the British bantamweight title, he was totally outclassed by Munyai who stopped him in the 9th round of their contest in London’s York Hall.

Following his victory at the York Hall, the colourful South African returned there, where he successfully defended his Commonwealth crown via a 6th round stoppage of Commonwealth flyweight kingpin Lee Haskins. In January 2007, he met Powers in a rematch at the Goresbrook Leisure Center in Dagenam, and after four one-sided rounds, Powers retired in his corner, claiming an elbow injury.

Thereafter, Munyai fought twice more in the UK and moved up to featherweight,
where he scored two 8-round victories over Harry Ramogoadi and Abdul Tebazi, before returning to South Africa.

In February 2008, Munyai challenged Argentina’s Julio David Roque Ler for the WBA Intercontinental bantamweight title in Bloemfontein, and won an impressive points victory over 12 rounds. The “Atomic Spider” returned to Britain in July 2008, but in a featherweight bout over 8 rounds, he was beaten for the first time in his career on points by Ghana’s Osumana Akaba. After his only setback thus far, Munyai again resumed fighting in his homeland, and in defence of his WBA Intercontinental crown, he beat fellow countryman Bongani Mahlangu. Though the bout was determined by a split decision, it is good to remember that at the time Mahlangu was the reigning WBA Pan African bantamweight titleholder. In his last bout, in July this year, Munyai halted Galley Cudjoe by means of a 1st round knockout in Johannesburg.

PIET PELSER DIES AT 54!

One of South Africa’s longest serving boxing journalists, Pieter Pelser, died in Cape Town recently at the age of 54.

Pelser, who spent most of his life in Pretoria, had been suffering from a heart condition since 2004. The Citizen newspaper’s boxing correspondent for many years, Pelser was a former amateur boxer himself and was included in my ‘Top 20 SA Boxing Writers’ resume in “No Punches Pulled” (1999).

Pelser was a deeply religious, dedicated journalist who had a fine understanding
of the sport and who can ever forget his unique sense of humor, like the time he said of former world heavyweight champion Leon Spinks; “The only guys who haven’t beaten him are the guys who haven’t fought him!”

More than most, Pelser had a great fundamental knowledge of the fears and regrets of the fighters themselves, and I happen to know, from our trips overseas, that he valued the time he spent with his family above all else.

At St Pete’s Beach, Florida, when Piet and I were there prior to flying to Connecticut for Corrie Sanders’ WBU heavyweight title bout with Bobby Cysz in 1998, he was moved to say, “We’re just guests at a rich man’s party”, obviously alluding to all the stars we’d met in the week before the championship fight.

A teetotaler, Piet was amazed at the fact that I swam out to sea at 4 am in
Florida, and when he discovered that there were no shark nets in the area, he laughingly remarked; “They (the sharks) probably thought you were a blonde-haired dolphin”.

A man with the courage of his convictions, Pelser became a bona fide boxing expert at a time when SA boxing needed him most, and his essays were always fair, interesting and unbiased.

No doubt the timekeeper in that ‘golden ring’ in the sky will keep that in mind, when Piet climbs through the ropes.

So long champ!