Allan Bouwer - by Pete Moscardi

The hand-speed is blindingly fast and the punches, thrown in combinations of three and four at a time, thud into the hand pads sending a thwack, thwack, thwack noise around the gym. I am watching 24-year-old Allan Bouwer having a session on the pads with his trainer, Colin Nathan at the latter’s HotBox gym in Glenhazel. Bouwer, who is a new acquisition to Nathan’s fastgrowing stable of “Young Lions”,
represents one of the new faces of South African boxing.

Within just a few minutes of watching Bouwer go through his hand pad routine, I sensed that this young man had all the looks of the quintessential bright ring prospect. A subsequent interview confirmed my first impressions.

Allan lives in Boksburg with his steady girlfriend, Lize, and has a day job working for his father as an automotive machinist. I start the conversation by asking him what his earliest memories are of his interest in boxing. “I recall watching the Gatti v Ward fight on TV with my dad when I was around 12 years old. This was my
first experience of watching boxing and I was hooked from that moment. I remember thinking that it would be amazing to be able to do what these guys were doing. Although I took no active interest in the sport until I was 19, the urge to participate was always there. So when I turned 19 I joined Peter Armstrong’s amateur boxing club in Kempton Park.”

I ask Bouwer to run through his amateur antecedent history and the facts he relates reveal a pedigree of note. “I had 38 fights of which I won 32. 2009 was a good year for me as I won the Gauteng championships in the lightweight division and picked up the Best Boxer Award. In the same year I was entered for the SA championships held in Bloemfontein and I won the lightweight title, again receiving the Best Boxer Award. I was also entered in the All Africa championships in Mauritius but I was eliminated via a very close decision in the quarter finals by a boxer who came from Senegal. At that stage my mind was already focusing on the 2012 Olympics.

“In 2010 I was entered for the Zone 6 held in Vereeniging. This was a tournament which featured boxers from the RSA, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique. I was pipped in the finals, again via a close points decision to a fighter from Botswana. Coincidentally I had beaten this opponent in one of the qualifying rounds in the All Africa Games in Mauritius. I then again contested for
the Gauteng championships held in Pretoria and won the event in my weight division, again receiving the Best Boxer Award. My participation in the 2010 SA championships was not so successful as I was eliminated in the first qualifying round.”

Bouwer took a lengthy sabbatical from boxing during which time he
agonised over his future. “I was desperately keen to try and make the 2012 Olympics, but I also had my eye on the professional game. In the end I decided to discard my amateur vest and turn professional as time was beginning to run out on me.”

Allan gave serious consideration to joining up with a shortlist of trainers but it was a chance meeting at the offices of Boxing South Africa (BSA) with HotBox gym owner, Colin Nathan, which eventually was to lead to where he is today. “I was in BSA’s offices to apply for my professional licence and Colin was there with his fighter, Hekkie Budler. One of BSA’s officials introduced us and we seemed to instantly click. The following day I called Colin and went over to his gym for a chat – and that was the start of our relationship,” he said.

Nathan enters the conversation at this stage to expound his views on his fighter. “I always look for several key qualities in assessing any aspiring boxer. These are a good chin, a big heart, dedication and discipline. The fighter also has to be passionate about his profession. Allan fits all these qualities and I get more impressed every time I watch him training in my gym,” Nathan says.

Bouwer made his professional debut on a recent African Ring Promotion bill
at Emperor’s Palace Casino. He looked devastating in scoring a 2nd round KO
victory over Fiele Sekgotha. It was a clinical KO win and one which impressed the gathering of fans. “I am essentially a boxer as opposed to being a fighter,” says this orthodox lightweight prospect. “I work daily to improve mastering the art and science of the sport,” he explains.

Bouwer has no shortage of sparring assistance as he has the unbeaten lightweight Joey Stigling, a pal from his amateur days, Adam de Moor, and Octavius Mbira – all of whom form the group of “Young Lions” who fight out of Nathan’s gym.

Bouwer’s day starts at 05.30 when he is out of bed and goes through a two-hour routine of callisthenic exercises. Lize makes him breakfast and thereafter he is off to work at his father’s Edenvale business. “My dad understands the demands of my boxing career and he lets me off work at 14:00 so that I can go home and catch
a couple of hours of rest before driving over to Colin’s gym,” he said.

South African boxing is shouting out for new blood and new prospects. Allan Bouwer fulfils all the ingredients of a future star. When a fighter oozes class by showing his prowess on the hand pads, it indicates that here, indeed, is a young man to keep an eye on.