The decision by Zolani Tete’s father to unwittingly force his son to use his right hand instead of the left, might have contributed to the boxer setting a world record for the quickest knockout.
Zolani scored a one hitter quitter over Siboniso Gonya in 11 seconds to set a new world record for the quickest end to a boxing championship at Belfast’s SSE Arena two weeks ago.
Tete was defending his WBO Bantamweight crown.
The seeds of the right hook that separated Gonya from his senses were probably sown when Zolani was only five years old.
It was at that time, that Zolani’s father, Zolile Tete, who is part of his technical team, forced his son to stop using his left hand.
“My father did not want me to use the left hand but the right,” Zolani said. “He would force me to even use the right hand when I ate.
“I ended up being adept at using both hands. This helped me to develop power in both hands as I proved when I knocked out Gonya with a right hand – even though I am a natural left-hander.”
While Tete finally succumbed to his dad’s pressure to change from a left-hander to a right, his elder sister, did not.
She had been on the receiving end of her father’s strict demeanour when he forced Nomakhwezi to use her right hand instead of her left. But that was to no avail.
“My father tried to change sis Nomakhwezi as well but he did not succeed,” Zolani recalled.
Now Zolani says his father’s decision to change him to a right hander proved to be a blessing in disguise.
This has helped Zolani in effect become “a two-arm bandit” who is able to end fights with either hand.
He can drill an opponent with his left hand which he uses for his southpaw stance. But his right is as equally deadly, as Gonya can attest to, when it rendered him senseless for close to six minutes – that ended up being a new world record for Tete.
He cannot recall which of his two weapons earned him the most devastating knockout – although the one he scored against Gonya still rates up there for him “probably because it is still fresh” in his mind.
Zolani once knocked out Tanzanian boxer Francis Miyeyusho in 10 seconds when he defended the WBF flyweight crown in 2008.
He still vividly recalls the fight.
“I threw a stiff jab, the one I was planning to throw at Gonya before changing my mind and decided to uncork the right hook.”
While he is a laid-back boxer who goes about doing his thing without much fanfare, Zolani has proven to be a devastating puncher having made 13 of his opponents see the stars in the very first round.
Overall he has scored 21 knockouts but the 13 he has blitzed in the opening frame, makes him one of the best knockout punchers in the world – and this includes the ranks of heavyweight boxers.
He once nearly decapitated Filipino Eduard Penerio when he turned the lights off on his opponent, with a left right combo.
But where does he get all this power?
“Firstly a boxer is born with power but you need to supplement it. For instance I like doing wood-chopping to increase my power,” he said.
Zolani has lean arms, reinforcing the notion that a boxer does not need big biceps to be a devastating puncher.
“Sometimes it is all about timing and range to get the best out of the punch.”
An additional boost for Zolani is the fitness regimen he incorporates while preparing for fights in his camp.
Before each of his camps, he enrols at Sweat 1000 in Johannesburg where the focus is on building specific muscle tissues to intensify speed, power and strength.
“The training concentrates on shoulder muscles, biceps or any of the muscles one wants to build while not forgetting conditioning, speed and strength. The training is such a crucial aspect in my preparations.”
This would explain the lightning speed with which the right hook travelled before exploding on Gonya’s chin, with the KwaZulu-Natal challenger unable to even block or duck beneath it.
Tete does not rule out the possibility of scoring even a quicker fight ender in future bouts.
This is highly possible as even the fight against Gonya should have ended in six seconds when the challenger hit the deck.
But Tete was denied a quicker end by referee Phil Edwards, who started to count for the stricken Gonya instead of immediately waving it off.
TETE’S FIVE HIGHLIGHT REEL KNOCKOUTS
lKO 1st round Xolile Ngemntu
lKO 1st rnd Francis Miyeyusho
lKO 1st Eduard Penerio
lKO 1st round Wiseman Kega
lKO 1st round Siboniso Gonya