Xolisani “Nomeva” Ndongeni yesterday was officially given a farewell in East London as he will leave for the US tomorrow where he will try to resurrect his boxing career after a frustrating spell at home.
Ndongeni will join top US trainer Luis Tapia who trains boxers at Floyd Mayweather boxing club in Las Vegas.
In a fitting farewell addressed by ANC presidential hopeful Matthews Phosa, who is funding the trip through his Matthews Phosa Foundation, the KwaBhaca-born boxer who learnt the boxing ropes in Duncan Village, said he would do everything in his power to breath life into his dormant career.
“I am at a loss for words with what is happening now after going through a bad patch in my career, ” he said.
Ndongeni took boxing by storm winning numerous titles in the junior lightweight and lightweight division culminating to an IBO world crown.
Unbeaten in 22 bouts, his ring success and charisma attracted the interest of top Johannesburg promoter Rodney Berman and trainer Colin Nathan who signed him up.
But after making a lukewarm debut under Berman he was loaned out to other promoters including Andile Sidinile who negotiated the US deal.
Sidinile is one of consultants of the newly-formed Mecca Boxing Promotions which has forged working relations with Phosa.
It was under Sidinile when Ndongeni won the IBO world title which he was forced to relinquish while fighting in Johannesburg on promises that he would be steered to bigger things in the US.
After a single appearance in the US when he beat Mexican Juan Garcia Mendez last November, Ndongeni found himself being frozen out leading to him asking to be released from his contract.
“I had no choice but to take the bold decision and ask to be released,” he said.
He approached Mecca Boxing Promotions where Sidinile is serving on consultancy basis after being suspended by Boxing SA as a promoter, because of his failure to pay boxers who fought in his tournament in April last year.
Coincidentally one of those boxers is Ndongeni but the pair has reconciled and is now working together to save the boxer’s career.
“All is forgotten now,” Ndongeni said of his relationship with Sidinile, who will be part of the delegation accompanying him to the US including female boxing sensation Leighandre Jegels.
Sidinile will also negotiate a deal for Ndongeni to join Floyd Mayweather Promotions.
Already a fight is being scheduled for Ndongeni next month against an opponent yet to be revealed.
Sidinile said when Ndongeni approached him he immediately activated his US contacts to come to his rescue.
“We have had a good relationship with Nomeva for a long time,” he said.
“Do not forget that we helped him win a world title but circumstances led to divergence of roads.”
Ndongeni’s US deal comes just when he has just signed an endorsement pact with SA Solutions and Security.
The pact will see him being given a vehicle emblazoned by the company’s logo to help for his training duties.
lMeanwhile Mdantsane-born Johannesburg based boxer Thulani Mbenge retained his SA welterweight title when he beat Mziwoxolo Ndwayana of Grahamstown at Emperors Palace on Saturday night.
Coupled with the knockdown he scored in the first round, Mbenge ran out a 119-108 winner of all the three judges’ scorecard.
The fight was on the undercard of the IBO cruiserweight title win by Kevin Lerena over France based Congolese Youri Kalenga.
In the same show Nkululeko Mhlongo retained his SA junior middleweight crown with a one sided beat-down of prospect Brendon Thysse.