UFH - Boxing - Vuyolwethu Dila (FSC)

Despite being in a race against time to be ready for this year’s USSA boxing tournament, University of Fort Hare’s Vuyolwethu Dila is confident a second consecutive gold medal is hers for the taking.

Like others who will be making the trip to next week’s event in Cape Town, UFH’s champion female has had to put her fighting on hold while writing her year-end exams.

Not being able to train since the start of the month has been difficult, but since completing her exam programme she has been in the gym three times a day to make up for lost time.

The flyweight has enjoyed another excellent year in the ring.

In September she reached the quarterfinals of the AFBC Men’s and Women’s African Boxing Championships in Cameroon, where she felt her form was good.

Last month, she was named boxer of the tournament at a charity event in Mthatha to raise awareness of breast cancer.

Dila is currently at the team camp in Alice and positive about her prospects in the Mother City.

Last year was her first outing at the USSAs and she duly topped the podium in her weight division.

UFH - Boxing - Vuyolwethu Dila (FSC)

Vuyolwethu Dila is confident of securing a second gold medal when she represents Fort Hare at the USSAs next week. Photo: Full Stop Communications

That performance earned her a place at the World Student Boxing Games in Turkey, where she won bronze.

The well-travelled national representative said her USSA opponents would not be as strong as those she encountered on the international circuit.

“But in boxing you learn every day. There are different opponents with different styles, so that helps me learn.”

With Fort Hare taking a much larger contingent to the student tournament this time around, she expected her peers to bring home more medals.

“We are gunning for number one. And we will talk after I’ve got my gold,” she quipped.

Fort Hare coach Mandilakhe Sontlaba said the team’s fitness levels were not quite what he wanted them to be due to the exams.

Ideally, he said, a boxer needed at least a month to be in the right space for a fight, both physically and mentally.

With the facilities at the Alice and East London campuses being significantly different, having to commute between Alice and East London is especially challenging.

Gym work is being done in both towns, while the Alice boxers travel to the coast for sparring sessions.

Despite their frenetic run-in to the tournament, Sontlaba believed his charges had the ability to bring home medals.

“At Fort Hare we have students from [the former] Transkei; places like Qumbu and Dutywa. These boxers have the hearts of lions, and that’s what will make us survive [at the USSAs].”

The same was true for boxers from Mdantsane, who had grown up watching some of the best fighters South Africa had ever produced, he said.