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Andre Thysse: a credit to boxing - by Ron Jackson

Andre Thysse never really looked like a boxer. When he got into the ring, spectators noticed the long, thin legs, pipestem arms and sloping shoulders; no broad chest and bulging muscles.

Physically, he was not one of the most impressive South African boxers. But looks deceive, as anyone should know.

Now officially retired, Thysse was a highly respected opponent, a successful professional, a good craftsman, a credit to the game and a most likeable character in a sport well populated by not-solikeable characters.

He won the SA amateur light-middleweight championship in 1989 and 1990. And as a professional, he held the SA and Commonwealth super-middleweight titles.

Born in Germiston on March 24, 1969, Thysse was overlooked when the SA team was selected to compete at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.

That caused him to lose interest in boxing, and it took a lot of persuasion before he made his professional debut at the Brixton Palace on April 14, 1999. He marked the occasion with a points victory over Adriaan Fourie.

Promoted by Jeff Ellis at the Palace, Thysse won his next three fights before losing by a close points decision in a sixrounder to Samson Khoza.

In 2000, he defeated Patrick Simelane and Justice Baloyi before gaining revenge against Khoza with a tenth-round technical knockout to clinch the vacant Gauteng super-middleweight title.

On June 23, 2001 he stopped Thabiso Mogale in nine rounds to win the vacant SA super-middleweight title and in November he stopped Xolani Ngemtu to retain the title.

Ngemtu’s handlers felt the stoppage was premature so he was given a return fight, in which he was well beaten on points over 12 rounds.

Thysse went on to make successful defences of his SA title against Brendon Hulley and Christopher Buthelezi before challenging the highly rated David Starie from England for the Commonwealth super-middleweight title in March 2003.

Entering the ring as the underdog, Thysse caused a minor sensation when he outpointed Starie over 12 rounds.

In June of 2003, he went in against IBO champion Brian Magee of Ireland. Fighting in Manchester, the South African was hampered by a damaged rotator cuff muscle. The injury prevented him using his right hand but he produced a plucky performance before being forced to retire in the tenth round.

Thysse then set his sights on the prestigious WBC super-middleweight belt. He challenged Germany’s Markus Beyer in Dresden in March 2004 but lost on points.

Barely a month later, he made the fifth defence of his SA title, beating Mthokozisi Malinga to become the outright holder of an Old Buck belt

Never one to duck a challenge, Thysse took on Mikkel Kessler of Denmark for the WBC International super-middleweight title in June.

Kessler, whose record stood at 33-0 at the time, stopped the gutsy South African in the eleventh round and went on to win the WBA and WBC super-middleweight belts.

Thysse finished the year in style when he knocked out SA light-heavyweight champion Erasmus Magwaza in a nontitle fight in November.

In 2005 he made three successful defences of his national title, beating Patrick Simelane and Daniel Bruwer on points over 12 rounds, and stopping Andile Tshongolo in the eighth.

However, 2006 was a less successful year. Thysse again went abroad, where he lost on points to respected supermiddleweights such as Jurgen Brahmer, Lucien Bute and Adrian Diaconu.

By the time Thysse turned 36, it seemed his career was coming to an end. But he was still confident enough to take on the highly rated Sakio Bika from the Cameroun. They met in Australia for the IBF Australian super-middleweight title. Bika won on points over twelve tough rounds.

Thysse never publicly announced his retirement from the ring and quietly faded out of the limelight. But just as boxing fans started forgetting about him, it was announced that he would fight the rugged Emmanuel Duma on September 29, 2009.

Against the odds, he knocked out Duma in the fifth round to take his record to 20-8; 12.

Now he has called it a day. But he is not stepping away from boxing. He will assist Harold Volbrecht in the trainer’s gymnasium in the south of Johannesburg.

It has been said that Thysse never really enjoyed school. He left in standard nine (now grade 11) before he could be expelled for punching a teacher.

He was also a useful rugby player and represented the provincial Falcons B team at fullback but he soon realised he would not be able to box and play rugby at the same time. Weighing 76 kg, he decided he would be better suited to boxing.

Having invested his ring earnings in a toy company, Thysse has become a successful businessman. He rents a warehouse near the OR Tambo International Airport and has shops at the Carnival City Casino and in Meyersdal.

He also owns a few tell-tale trade marks of the game he served so well: a dented nose and a couple of gaps where he used to have his own teeth.