Meet the “Demolition Man”
of SA Boxing- by Terry Pettifer
Academic achievements and professional
boxing don’t always mix, though history
proved that astute ‘thinkers’ like James J. Corbett and Gene Tunney rose to the pinnacle of their chosen profession, which happened to be world heavyweight boxing, by means of analytical expertise, dedication and pin-point planning, that saw them defeat two of the living legends of their time, namely John L. Sullivan (1892) and Jack Dempsey (1926).
A studious approach to life and sport,
not to mention ambition, has guided more
than a few ‘educated’ fighters to fame, and one Florance Simba could be the latest
addition to the class of academically inclined athletes to have chosen boxing as
a means of attaining both fame and riches.
Not that the allure of financial rewards is
the sole motivation behind the 19-year-old
Simba turning to professional boxing. “Florance
is out to succeed in one of the
toughest sports in the world and the magnetism of the prize ring purportedly captivated him from the moment he had his first amateur fight” said Golden Gloves Promoter Rodney Berman, who’ll be acting on expert advice to secure the 1.9 metre, 88 kg fighter a boxing license! Indeed, after only seven senior amateur fights, that translate into seven consecutive wins (6 by knockout), the good-looking Simba has already registered bingo amongst experienced observers like Brian Mitchell, Jeff Ellis and acclaimed trainer Harold Volbrecht, all of whom believe he’s a “potential world beater”. While that may seem a trifle presumptuous, Simba’s recent victory over an established SA amateur champion served to convince his team of backers; Berman (promoter), Mitchell (manager) and Volbrecht (trainer) that the Congolese-born fighter could be the black
heavyweight hope that Berman has always been dreaming about.
“Florance came to South Africa when he
was only 1-year-old” said Mitchell, “And by
now he’s as South African as ‘pap’ and ‘vleis’. Moreover, when you see this kid,
who turns twenty on September 29 throw punches, you will know why everyone in
amateur boxing circles is raving about his potential! Simba is a natural, if ever I’ve seen one”.
Trainer Harold Volbrecht agrees and calls
the hard-hitting Simba, “One of the most
versatile hitters I’ve ever seen, and believe me he’s tough!”
Man-about-boxing Jeff Ellis, while quick
to admit that looks can at times be deceiving,
added, “When guys like Brian
(Mitchell) and Harold (Volbrecht) are both
awed by a young fighter’s talent there is obviously every reason to sit up and take
note and from what I know about this kid he’s one of the most explosive local
prospects in years. He’s literally a one-man demolition squad”
The son of a medical
doctor, Simba is studying
Civil Engineering at
the University of Johannesburg,
and stays in
one of the most vibrant
boxing areas in the
southern suburbs….South Hills! Yes, it was in South Hills that some of this country’s most exciting fighters called home, amongst them national champions like Bruce “Mac the Knife” McIntyre and Evie Vorster.
That Simba has yet to have his mettle
tested in the professional arena, doesn’t
bother Hall of Famer Brian Mitchell in the least, and the former WBA and IBF junior
lightweight champion of the world was quick to point out other notable professionals who never had amateur pedigrees.
“Neither the great Pierre Fourie, who
fought for the world light heavyweight title
on four occasions, or former SA lightweight champion Aladin Stevens fought as
amateurs, yet both were truly outstanding as professionals” said Mitchell, himself no star in the simon pure ranks.
As for the highly articulate Simba, it’s
noteworthy that his former amateur coach
Aubrey Lovett, has no reservations concerning his talent. “Florance is a brilliant,
even breathtaking talent, and I’ve no doubt that he’ll make it big in the professional ranks” said Lovett, who is the father of embattled local light heavyweight contender Jared “The Storm” Lovett.
Mind you looking at Simba’s build and
physique, one finds it difficult to contest
the opinion of men like Lovett, Volbrecht, Mitchell and Berman.
Ladies and gentlemen, the “Demolition Man” has arrived!