‘Whispering Witch’ is no ring softy
Even his assistant trainers could not hear a word from Mzamo Chief Njekanye when he was advising Azinga Fuzile in his three-round destruction of fancied Tshifhiwa Munyai in the Featherweight Super Four Series in Gauteng a fortnight ago.
Besides his whispering voice in the corner, Njekanye will never be heard making a public comment about boxing, opting to let his actions do the talking.
But BM managed to convince him to come and share his feelings about the performance of Fuzile in the S4.
BOXING MECCA: Firstly, do you feel the “Whispering Witch” moniker describes you?
MZAMO NJEKANYE: (Laughing) What? Who gave me that name? Let me think. Yes, I think the name describes me perfectly.
BM: I have never heard you shouting instructions to your boxers during their fights. And I never comprehend what you say to them between rounds.
MN: There is no need for me to shout to my boxer to throw a certain punch during the fight because he will come back to the corner between rounds and I will be able to relay what I want him to do. Furthermore, a fight is prepared in the gym and not in the ring.
BM: You took a lot of flak from people for letting Fuzile participate in the S4 with some even accusing you of cashing in on the youngster. How do you feel now?
MN: Yes, I did but there is one thing I have learnt in this game and that is not to pay attention to what people say. I am sure you will agree with me when I say I do not make public statements. Even during the Nomeva (his former boxer Xolisani Ndongeni) non-payment row with Premier Boxing League (PBL) I did not say a word.
BM: But you must be glad that you have proven everyone who doubted Fuzile wrong.
MN: One thing I can say is that there are people who are supposed to be knowledgeable about boxing and I will not mention names. We hold them in high regard because of where they have been to. So it is disappointing when you hear their remarks but like I said I do not pay much to what my detractors say.
BM: You say you do not want to mention names but there was a hullabaloo on social media when you accepted to participate in the S4. There were even locals who openly backed Munyai.
MN: Yes, there were. But like I said one should not take things too seriously in this game. Remember I was even accused of running scared when (Lusanda) Komanisi openly challenged us. What I have learnt is that I will never allow my boxer to be advised by these so-called experts because to me their boxing know-ledge is questionable.
BM: Do you feel like Fuzile’s win was a vindication for you that you deserve the trainer of the year award you won in January?
MN: I am not in this game for vindication but to do what is right for my boxers. Remember when I train a boxer I am also building a human being. But let me say there is no trainer at the present moment who has plucked a boxer from obscurity, taught him boxing and finally made him a champion. Please remind me if there is one out there. There are two factors in boxing and they are the means and actions.
BM: Explain that please.
MN: Boxing often favours people with means but there are those who let their actions speak for themselves. For now I would say those with means are usually applauded despite getting ready-made products while those who sweat and toil are ignored.
BM: Speaking of toiling and means, are you still training your boxers in that old dilapidated building in Gompo?
MN: I call that building the “Million Dollar” gym and that is where boxers and human beings are crafted. It amuses me when people arrive there and ask where exactly do we train while they are standing right inside the gym itself.
BM: It Sounds like you like that rundown building.
MN: We must learn to make do with what we have in life. That does not mean I do not want it to be upgraded as the former sports minister promised. But at the moment we are crafting and churning out talent from there.
BM: How do you forge this father-son relationship you enjoy with your boxer?
MN: Like I said, boxing is more than a sport to me. It is a means of community upliftment because through boxing we are able to take these kids off the street, teach them life skills etc. Now if you instil that to the youngsters at an early age you will develop this special bond.
BM: How is Fuzile doing with the matric exams so far?
MN: He says he is doing well but we will only know when the results come out. I have utmost trust in the boy though, so if he says he is doing well I believe him.
BM: Do you not feel like being there for him to whisper advice like you do during his fights?
MN: (Laughing). In life you must teach someone how to catch a fish and not do so for him if you are building him. The boy knows the cornerstones of success so there is no need for me to be there. Furthermore, he has experts in that field so he is in good hands.
BM: Now that Fuzile has qualified to contest for the WBC International featherweight title with his win over Munyai, and will face Lerato Dlamini, what is your goal? Which champion would you love to fight most?
MN: Look, firstly Azinga has not won the WBC international title as yet so I do not want to sound like I am overlooking Dlamini. But as we are obviously taking the WBC route we are already plotting for Russel Jnr (Garry). For instance, the WBC silver featherweight champion is Nonito Donaire so if we win against Dlamini we will love to face Donaire before going to the champion.
BM: Thanks and congratulations on your splendid win.
Boxing is benefiting as a whole when there are people like Fuzile coming through.
MN: It would be amiss of me if I do not thank those who made it possible for us to participate in the Super Four. I will not mention names because you know who they are, don’t you?
BM: Actually I don’t, it is okay...
MN: Also those who supported us and believed in us but even those who doubted us because they made us strong. It is good to convince Doubting Thomases sometimes.