UFH - Boxing - Sakhe Tyam (FSC) (9)

The tale of the tape following this week’s USSA boxing tournament in Cape Town reads four gold, five silver and three bronze medals.

In addition, 12 of the 18 boxers reached their respective finals.

And, if a couple of 50-50 results had gone their way, they may well have returned to the Alice and East London campuses as overall champions for a second year running.

Two women and two men bobbed, weaved and punched their way to gold.

As expected, Vuyolwethu Dila claimed her second consecutive title, while Likhona Ncomani collected her first.

Both were selected for the USSA national team following the event.

Sakhe Tyam and Anesipho Botile proved to be the ultimate ringmasters among the men.

It was coach Mandilakhe Sontlaba’s first University Sports South Africa tournament since taking the reins at UFH in February.

UFH - Boxing - Sakhe Tyam (FSC) (9)

Sakhe Tyam was one of four Fort Hare gold medallists at the USSA tournament in Cape Town. Photo: Full Stop Communications

“Back in the day” national championships were events renowned for bouts where no quarter was given and prior to departing for the Mother City he was rightfully concerned that his fighters were perhaps slightly underdone.

But the medal count and almost 70 per cent of the squad making the finals allayed any trepidation he might have had.

The former professional boxer felt that in at least two bouts Fort Hare were handed the wrong end of the stick.

If these decisions had gone their way, their tally of golds would have risen to six and they would have bagged the team trophy ahead of eventual champions Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

However, that is the nature of boxing.

Based on what he had witnessed at his maiden tertiary championships, Sontlaba believed that his charges would “dominate” the competition this time next year.

His job will be somewhat easier in 2024 as most of the current squad will still be students at UFH, giving him a solid base from which to work his magic.

One of Sontlaba’s big focus areas will be preparing his boxers further in advance without disrupting their studies too much.

If they hope to be serious contenders in the ring, they need to put in the hard yards at least six weeks prior to fighting.

He could not fault his boxers’ passion, but said it needed to be combined with a more professional approach. For this reason, he wanted them fighting in South African National Boxing Organisation (SANABO) events to expose them to tougher opposition.

Several members of Fort Hare’s management team were present at the champs and he had already shared his strategy going forward.

If his plan comes together, he is confident that as many as six of his students can make the national team.