Ndou remembers it all so well: Day filled with mixed feelings

June 16 has mixed emotions for the former IBF and IBO world boxing champion‚ and now Australian-based practising attorney‚ Lovemore “Black Panther” Ndou.

The emigrant of these shores reminisced with TimesLIVE about the famous day in South African history that was also the date that saw him lose his IBF belt under controversial circumstances to American Paul Malignaggi in the USA in 2007.

TASTING LEATHER: Lovemore Ndou of Australia throws a punch at Kell Brook of Great Britain during their WBA international welterweight title fight in 2011 at the Hillsborough Leisure Centre in Sheffield, England Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Ndou – who owns his law firm in Sydney‚ and has lived in Australia since 1995 – believes he could never have followed his chosen profession had it not been for the sacrifice made on the famous day in the Soweto Uprising of 1976.

“June 16 will always be memorable to me for two reasons‚” said Ndou.

“A series of protests led by black schoolchildren in South Africa resulted in the death of hundreds of young black Africans. This profoundly changed the socio-political landscape in South Africa in many ways.

“For example‚ in years to follow this resulted in the death of the Bantu Education system‚ which in many ways was a system associated with derogatory connotations and designed in an effort to continue to degrade black Africans and treat them as second-class citizens in their own country.

“Today I look at my life and my profession as an attorney in Sydney and wonder whether if it wasn’t for the Soweto Youth Uprising‚ would I be practising law in a foreign country and in fact run my own law practice? I do not think so.

“With the introduction of the Bantu Education System there was also a requirement‚ or demand‚ so to say‚ that ‘Afrikaans’ be the medium of education in black schools.

“I have nothing against Afrikaans or Afrikaans-speaking people. Some of my best friends are Afrikaans-speaking people and I am glad that I studied the language up to my matriculation. However, the language has its limits as far as international communication and the global community is concerned.”

June 16 has a second reason to be always be memorable to Ndou.

“It has to do with my world title defence against Paul Malignaggi in Mohegan Sun Casino‚ Uncasville‚ Connecticut‚ USA.

“This was my first defence of my IBF junior-welterweight world title. Not only did I have to fight Malignaggi on that night but I had everything else going against me‚ from the referee‚ the judges‚ the crowd and anything else you could think of.

“The referee‚ Eddie Cotton‚ was my biggest opponent if not my nightmare on the night. He wouldn’t allow me to fight my fight. That is‚ fight on the inside. To put it in context he invariably broke clinches immediately and didn’t allow me to implement my plan of fighting on the inside.

“Now‚ I have been in the ring with some of the hardest punchers in boxing including Miguel Cotto‚ Kermit Cintron and Saul Alvarez (Canelo)‚ who was almost 10kg heavier than me when I fought him‚ and none of them could put me on my ass.

“How the heck did Malignaggi‚ who punches like my two-year-old granddaughter‚ manage to drop me? At the end of the fight two judges never gave me a round. I didn’t have a scratch on my face‚ he had two big cuts.”

Last month Ndou graduated with another master’s degree in Master of Applied Law (Family Law). “I intend to return to SA in the future and go into politics‚” he said. — TimesLIVE