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Boxing’s Number One Fan- by Pete Moscardi

Joy Greyvenstein’s home is located on East London’s beach-front. Just across the road from her apartment is a famous landmark in the town – the Orient Theatre – which Joy aptly regards as her second home. This is the Mecca of boxing in this sleepy seaside town and Joy religiously makes the pilgrimage to this run down old venue to attend the frequently held Friday night and Sunday afternoon shows. For Joy Greyvenstein this is a ritual not to be missed. And from the time she became
a devout boxing fan and follower some nine years ago, she can claim to have never missed a promotion at this pantheon of pugilism.

Joy’s passion for boxing – and it is, indeed, best described as a passion as opposed to an interest – developed through her friendship with Vuyani Bungu “I used to watch boxing on television and then I got to know Welcome Ncita and Vuyani Bungu, both of whom were former IBF junior-featherweight champions. Some nine or 10 years ago Vuyani invited me to go along with him to the Orient Theatre to
see a show and from that moment onwards I became hooked on the sport,” she explains. One of the things that fascinated her about Vuyani Bungu was a green special model BMW sports car he used to drive. “I fell in love with that car which he eventually sold to me and which I am still driving.” she says.

There are many aspects of this interesting person which make her stand out in a crowd – literally. Anyone who watches the tournaments which are televised from either the Orient Theatre or the Mdanstane Indoor Arena could not fail to be curious about the lone blonde white lady, seated amidst a sea of black boxing fans and whose enthusiastic support of the action in the ring is as vocal as anything the rest of the audience has to offer. And apart from being the sole white spectator in
the Orient’s tiered seating, she is always conspicuous by the vivid red outfit she consistently wears to the boxing. “I don’t wear red for any reasons of superstition. It just happens to be my favourite colour and I wear red daily when I am doing my day job which is in network marketing for a company called Clientel Life,” she says.

Her never-miss attendance at the East London tournaments eventually attracted the attention of Boxing South Africa and in 2005 she was invited to attend a function at the Emperor’s Palace casino in Kempton Park where she was presented with Boxing South Africa’s award for being nominated ‘Fan of the Year’ – the achievement of which she is immensely proud.

I asked Joy whether she is a “discerning” fan – and whether she would give a miss to the one-off shows that she might not consider as being too exciting. “I have never missed a single show and I never will. I just love boxing and I get as much excitement watching a four round preliminary contest as I do a main event,” is her emphatic response. What may have crossed the minds of the TV watchers is how it comes about that she is always in the same seat. This, she explains, is not because the promoter has allocated her that particular seat - it happens through a deliberate strategy she employs. “I always get to the arena at 18.00 for evening shows – two hours before the start of the action. I am usually one of the first people there and I am thus able to claim my seat,” she says. Do promoters provide her with a complimentary seat for being such a devout fan? “Never, I always
buy my boxing tickets,” is her reply.

Joy was born on a farm in the Fort Beaufort district. Her parents’ home language was Afrikaans, but she grew up being looked after by and mixing with the black employees on the farm. She became fluent in Xhosa when still a child and is today conversant in the language at the highest level. There would be very few people among the black population in the East London area who did not either know her or
know of her. ”I always joke that when I die my funeral will attract the biggest crowd of black mourners that East London has ever known,” she adds with a laugh.

Joy admits that her circle of friends is mainly from the black community – with boxers such as Nkosinathi Joyi, Ali Funeka, Vuyani and Dudu Bungu, Welcome Ncita and others being among them. She refuses to identify her favourite boxer, saying that she loves them all. But she is unable to hide the fact that she has a special empathy for Nkosinathi Joyi whom she regards almost as a son. “I have a special red top which has a large photo of Nkosinathi imprinted on it. I always wear it when he is fighting,” she reveals.

Joy Greyvenstein’s passion for boxing goes way beyond just attending the fights. “I read as much as I can about the business and politics of the sport and, believe me, it is more political than any other sport. To fully understand the business of boxing you have to understand the politics behind the sport,” she explains. Joy goes to the fights usually in the company of a lady friend – but would not feel at all uncomfortable going alone. “I am always well treated by the fans at the Orient
Theatre and I know most of the regulars by sight if not by name. In fact, it is like being among a large family when sitting at ringside and I would not miss out on this for all the world,” she concludes.