Marlon Verster by Pete Moscardi

The first thought that entered my head on meeting 19-year-old Marlon Verster
was to wonder whether he had yet had the experience of shaving. Colin Nathan’s
latest addition to his Glenhazel Hotbox gym has the looks of a young school boy
which, until two years ago, he was. But while he facially portrays immaturity, this
young man verbally presents a strong set of values which could well be attributed to a mature adult.

When Marlon Verster matriculated from Lambton High in Germiston at the end of
2009 his mind was already made up on a career path and his goals were firmly
set. “My ambition, even while I was still at school, was to become a professional
fighter. I decided it would be a good idea to get a qualification and so I enrolled
at the African Academy where I studied drafting for 18 months, qualifying in August this year.

Before Marlon Verster can climb through the ropes and enter the professional
ring he will have to adhere to the requirements of BSA in order to obtain his license. This entails a sparring session before a BSA official at an appointed gymnasium. “I plan to be a full time fighter and I do not intend looking at any other occupation while I am boxing,” he says.

Marlon lives in Germiston with his parents and the Versters are a close-knit
family. He has two siblings – Donovan (23) and a sister, Kim (17). “We are
all very family-oriented and even my grandparents live on the property in a flat behind our house,” he added.

Marlon’s ambition to become a successful fighter stems from a boxing lineage in
the Verster family. “My dad and my two uncles were keen amateur boxers and my
grandfather trained an amateur club in Malvern. We have a cabinet in our lounge
which has numerous boxing trophies. My earliest memory of any connection with
boxing was shadow boxing in front of a mirror when I was just nine years old.
It was the trophies in the cabinet which inspired me to do this as I used to dream
of one day becoming a boxer and winning trophies like my dad and uncles,” he
recalls.

Marlon’s pre-adolescent ambitions to enter the square ring received vigorous
encouragement from his father. He joined the Cobra Boxing Club in Malvern when
he was 13 and had 25 fights as a junior. “I remember I lost my first fight on points
but was up against an older and much more experienced opponent. I ended up having some 25 fights as a junior, winning 20. I won the SA Cadets title in 2009. The head coach of the Cobra Club was Johnny du Plooy and I was with this club for two and a half years before leaving to join Aubrey Lovett’s South Side Club in the south of Johannesburg.”

Marlon’s career as a senior at the South Side Club was brief and not with the
success he might have wished for. He secured two wins from the five fights he had
but, as he points out, he was matched against far more experienced boxers who
also had an age advantage over him.

Marlon focused on his drafting studies before deciding on the move to the professional ranks. Making a careful study of all the options which confronted him, Marlon elected to join Colin Nathan and his stable of “young lions” at the Hotbox Gym. “I made this decision because Colin has a gym of young prospects and I had heard that there was a really good
team spirit there. I will be fighting in the welterweight division and I can’t wait to
get into the ring for the first time without a vest,” he says.

Marlon has a mature philosophy both on his boxing career and on life in general
and his axiom is ‘boxing and the bright lights don’t mix’. “My interests outside
boxing are simple. I have a steady girlfriend, I enjoy computer games and anything
mechanical such as tinkering with car engines. Family forms a major part of
my life and I recognize and appreciate the importance of strong family values,” he
says. These are profound words indeed coming from the mouth of a fresh-faced
kid who doesn’t look a day over 16.

Colin Nathan waxes lyrical over his new signing. “When Marlon first came to me
I quizzed him in depth about his attitude towards the fight game and was able to
put all the ticks in the right places. But it was when I got him on the pads that
I saw something quite special in this youngster. His talent has really lit a spark
of excitement in me and I think he has an excellent future. This is not Hollywood
but I look up at my gym which is on the third storey and I say to myself: ‘ I have a
gym full of young stars – and I am lucky enough to be the director’.”