Fiddler’s Green Sports Field recently played host to the inaugural Festival Shield boxing tournament from 5 to 7 July. The Festival Shield pitted boxers from four local clubs – Masibambane, Phakamisa, Mfuzo and Dabhan – against each other over the National Arts Festival period, with 16 bouts scheduled per day.
Each bout consisted of three rounds, with individuals categorized depending on their age groups. Fighters between the ages of 12 and 14 formed the Schoolboy/ Schoolgirl bracket, with 15 to 16-year-olds making up the Juniors, 17 to 18-year-olds considered Youths and those 19 and above deemed to be in the Elite level.
“The competition started this year. We wanted to add a bit of flavour [to the National Arts Festival],” said festival coordinator Thabang Tlhoele.
“It’s a great initiative to get these kids exposed. They come from separate boxing clubs around Grahamstown and there’s one from Port Elizabeth. The Grahamstown Boxing Club came up to us [to organize the competition]. It’s more or less clubs just showcasing talent. It’s just a friendly tournament; the kids just play.”
Centred underneath a massive gazebo on the field was the boxing ring, surrounded by spectators both young and old, eager to cheer on their friends or family members. Three judges sat at different points around the ring, with the referee officiating in the middle.
Luyande Dibela, boxing coach of the Sarah Baartman district, represented the Coach’s Commission of the Eastern Cape and acted as a talent scout throughout the duration of the festival. “We’re looking to pick out talented boxers,” he stated. “Fighters that are good enough are selected for the Sarah Baartman team to participate in the upcoming provincial championships. Basically, as a district, we have four active municipalities in boxing.
“It’s holiday time for the kids, so we have tried to link up with the [National Arts] Festival to keep them active and engaged during this period.”