Hate factor could make Oosthuizen vs Chelemba biggest local grudge fight in years - by Terry Pettifer

While very few boxers actually ‘hate’ each their rivals, there’s no denying the fact that Joe Frazier’s words regarding his nemesis Muhammad Ali aptly apply to most “grudge” encounters.

Asked if he really hated the self proclaimed Greatest, the phlegmatic Frazier grinned broadly before replying, “I suppose I did have a lot of hate in my heart going into each of our three fights but that’s part of this game. If you don’t hate the guy enough you don’t really want to put that much hurt on him. Basically though I can’t say I hated him. It was more a case of me looking at him and knowing that he had a couple of screws loose” said Smokin Joe.

Middleweight antagonists of the Forties; Tony Zale and Rocky Graziano waged three unforgettable battles for the world middleweight championship and in his autobiography "Somebody Up There Likes Me", the colourful Graziano wrote; “If there wasn’t a referee, one of us would have been killed”.

An unconventional and rebellious youth, Graziano grew up on the streets of New York City’s Lower East Side and his vicious rivalry with Indiana’s Zale was possibly intensified by their totally opposite backgrounds and natures. When the smoke
finally cleared, Zale came out a 2-1 winner after the most brutally fought series in middleweight history.

South African boxing has been filled with classic grudge fights, a few of which epitomised the hate factor in its starkest form. The ideal example of this was the trilogy of middleweight wars in the 1950’s between arch-rivals Mike Holt and Eddie Thomas who literally tried to kill each other every time they fought.

The November 6, IBO super middleweight championship bout between Tommy “Tommy Gun” Oosthuizen and Isaac “The Golden Boy” Chilemba has the makings of one of the fiercest waged contests seen in this country since Bruce McIntyre and Cameron Adams bashed the living daylights out of each other one rain-swept night at the Rand Stadium in Johannesburg.

Given their mutual dislike for each other and the extremely harsh words that were
exchanged at a recent press conference, Chilemba versus Oosthuizen could eclipse very local grudge fight of recent vintage” said African Ring’s Jeff Ellis, while the fight promoter; Rodney Berman of Golden Gloves Promotions believes the bout will
elicit a ‘pier-six’ punch-up unlike anything ever seen at Emperors Palace.

“The grudge element in this case hasn’t been carefully modulated and as such we
can expect a murderous fight between two superbly gifted fighters. Simply put, this could be the biggest bout staged in South Africa in years” said Berman.

Purists recall only too well previous homespun classics, like the Gerrie Coetzee/
Kallie Knoetze, Phillip Ndou/Cassius Baloyi and Pierre Coetzer/Johnny du Plooy
battles and Berman is of the opinion that the November slugfest will rival or surpass the savage exploits of all those contests.

Chilemba has promised to batter Oosthuizen into early retirement and similarly
the Tommy Gun has pledged to smear the Malawi-born IBO champion all over the
Emperors Palace canvas.

Can you beat that sort of pre-advanced publicity? I think not and don’t be at all surprised if this bill is sold out.