Lights, camera, action: boxing movie being shot in city

Various parts of East London and Mdantsane have been turned into shooting locations as the crew works to bring South African boxing film, Knuckle City, to life.

Directed by Mdantsane’s internationally acclaimed filmmaker Jahmil Qubeka, the film has partnered with world champion Zolani Tete’s Last Born Productions to bring authenticity to the movie.

“We are honoured and proud to join with Zolani and Mlandeli [boxing manager Mlandeli Tengimfene], who will join in an executive producer portfolio, give us access to their boxers, insight into the world of boxing in Mdantsane and guide us towards creating an authentic piece of local cinema,” said Qubeka.

The film is produced by Qubeka’s production company, Yellowbone Entertainment, co-founded with producer/editor Layla Swart, in partnership with the department of trade and industry and M-Net’s Mzansi Magic.

On Monday, the Daily Dispatch spent some time with the production team while they were shooting a scene outside the Wimpy along Esplanade in East London.

Swart said some of the locations they would be using include: Orient Theatre, Cecilia Makiwane Hospital, Mdantsane Sun, The Square in Station Street, the East London harbour and several homes in Mdantsane.

Knuckle City follows the journey of Dudu Nyakama, a long struggling boxer from Mdantsane. Dudu’s father was a boxer, and owner of the infamous Knuckle City Gym in the heart of the township.

Although its founder died, the gym is still a refuge for many young men who pride themselves on their ability to pack a punch. Now run by the down-and-out former fighter Bra Links, Knuckle City Gym is filled to the brim with hopeful boxers.

Dudu spends most of of his time in the training ring preparing for the elusive fight he has not yet secured.

Until one day when a big fight is announced, and the undercard fighters are to be selected from within their ranks. Dudu, now into his thirties, pleads for an opportunity to fight.

The role of Dudu Nyakama is played by Scandal actor Bongile Mantsai.

“It is amazing that we are doing a boxing story set in the Eastern Cape. We are not taking the story away from the province, this city is known for boxing and we get to work with real boxers, this has been an eye-opening experience for me,” Mantsai said.

Mantsai has been training with boxers from Tete’s boxing club.

“Jahmil wants the fights to be real and what better way than to work with real boxers. There are no stuntmen, we have real boxers and coaches. It’s scary but it’s interesting and humbling as well,” he said.