Muhammad Ali once said ‘I hated every minute of training but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion!” he was right. Training was so hard. Especially for me. I was training for the South African Women Boxing Championship. I had been waiting for so long for this.
The pressure came from my family, my manager, my trainer, even my friends. Everyone had hope that I would reign supreme and finally fulfill my dream of being a national champion. I was lucky to have a friend like Linothando. She was the one who encouraged me the most. She was like my personal cheerleader. Whenever I felt like quitting, she would take me down memory lane and remind me of the reason why I fell in love with boxing in the first place.
I became a provincial champion a year ago. It was good holding a title like that. All my hard work had paid off. Now I was chasing the bigger title. The national champion title. I had fans and girls who looked up to me. there were so many who wrote letters and emails to me, telling me how much I am an inspiration to them and how much I have inspired them to follow their dreams.
Being a champion was not only for myself, but was for every woman out there. I even started a gym for women who have been abused before. Not for them to inflict more violence, but to fight back when they are faced with similar situations from the past. Of course the gym had huge membership to such an extent that I opened two more but the other two were mixed with women of all kinds, not just survivors of abuse.
I got up, went to wash my face and brush my teeth. I then geared up and went for my morning jog. Since today was the day of the championship, I ran 2 km but if it was a normal day, I would’ve ran 5 km. after jogging, I went back home and took a shower. I finished showering and then got dressed in a black contrast stitch zip unitard romper, black leather jacket and black boots.
I took my stuff and went to place them in the lounge. I then went to the kitchen where I found my mom preparing breakfast. My mom was a chef and she owned a total of six restaurants in South Africa. Sometimes her success made me cringe. I hugged her from behind and kissed her cheek.
Me: “my favorite person.” She smiled.
Mom: “morning baby. How are you doing this morning?”
Me: “I am okay. Has daddy left for work already?”
Mom: “no. he is off today.” My father was a full time farmer and he spent most of his time in his farms. He has 3 farms. One for vegetables, flowers and fruits. One for livestock and one for sugar cane and maize plants. He had so many companies and supermarkets buying from him, even well-known florists. His farms were doing so well.
Me: “then where is he?”
Mom: “to sort out a few things. He is coming back in a few minutes.”
Me: “okay.” I sat on the counter and watched her cook. She didn’t like people helping her when she is cooking unless she was at the restaurant where she would shout orders. Few minutes later she finished cooking, just as dad was making his way inside kitchen.
Dad: “here is my champion.” He came to where I was seated and picked me up. He hugged me tight and I giggled. He placed me down and perked my forehead. “Are you ready?”
Me: “I was born ready.”
Dad: “that’s the spirit.”
We ate breakfast and then we drove to Johannesburg where the tournament was going to be held. There were only 20 fighters participating and I was the only one from North West which meant the whole province was counting on me to bring the belt back home. This was huge because it was going to be broadcasted live on Variety 3 Channel.
We found my trainer, coach, manager and my siblings already waiting for us at the venue. We exchanged greetings. It was strange that my best friend hadn’t arrived because the last time we spoke, she was supposed to be here an hour earlier than us. I called her and her phone rang unanswered. I tracked her phone using find my iPhone and it showed that she was in Mamelodi. What the fuck was she doing there?
Me: “guys I have to go fetch Dipuo at Mamelodi. I think she is stuck there.”
Rapulana: “I will drive there so that we can come back sooner.” Rapu was my older brother. He stayed and worked at Witbank. We rushed to his car and I sent him Dipuo’s location. “What the hell is D doing in such a shady place?”
Me: “I am clueless as you are brother.”
We drove there and we got to where her phone was. He parked by the road and we climbed off. The tracker led us to this suspicious alley. We walked there and my breath hitched when I saw her luggage and clothes scattered around.
Rapu: “what’s going on here?” we walker further and what I saw next made me freeze. My best friend was lying on the ground, battered up, with stab wound, laying in a pool of blood. She was naked. Rapu rushed to her and checked her pulse. He then breathed out load. “She is gone.” I felt my knees getting weak and I fell to the ground.
He took out his phone and called someone. I crawled to her and closed her eyes. I sat on the blooded floor and brought my knees on my chest and I kept rocking back and forth. Few minutes later I heard sirens and my brother came and helped me stand up. He cupped my face.
Rapu: “baby I know that this is painful to you but you have been waiting for this tournament for as long as you can remember. Don’t fight for you but fight for Dipuo. She would’ve wanted you to carry on with the fight because she wasn’t a selfish friend. She loved you. Right now go out there and fight. After that we are going to mourn her properly.” I nodded multiple times and wiped my tears.
The police came and took our statements. After that we went back to the tournament. Rapu told everyone what happened and they were very sad. I went to the changing rooms and took a shower because I had blood stains on my body. I then changed and got ready for my first fight which was against Melanin, a boxer from Limpopo.
I wasn’t fighting in peace, I fought with anger and due to that I won the fight but my opponent left the ring with serious injuries. I also did the same to Azania. There were 5 of us left for the semifinals. Tina was disqualified because the organizers found that she was using illegal steroids to enhance her performing skills.
I fought with Hammer in the semifinals, she was from Mthatha. I nearly broke her jaws. She ended up surrendering because I didn’t give her a chance to breathe. We took an hour break before the finals. I went to the dressing room and took out my red coat and wore it. I went outside to get some air. While I was sitting there, my coach came and sat next to me.
Manor: “what the fuck was that RED COAT?” that was my nick name. I was given it because I had this red coat that I always wore before the fight. Some people said it was the one which brought me good luck. I just loved it and after they gave me that name, I made sure I wore it in every match. I scratched my head.
Me: “all I see is red coach. I can’t help.”
Manor: “how about you go in that ring and be the loved and feared RED COAT, not the ruthless grieving friend? If you continue with this, you might end up being disqualified or even killing your opponent. Is that you want?” I shook my head with tears streaming down my cheeks. He hugged me. “You are going to be okay. Just stick to your training and your talent. That belt is yours.”
We were called back inside. I went to the changing room, changed into another gear and went to the ring. Manor and my trainer gave me a pep talk. This time around I was up against the PUNISHER. She was from Mtubatuba, in KZN. She was one of the best but I had courage. The match was tough. I nearly lost but I won after breaking her jaws and ribs.
I may have won but I think if this tournament hadn’t happened, my friend would’ve still been alive. She was dead because she was on her way to support me. I will never forgive myself for what happened before. She hated and feared Johannesburg but she was forced to come here because she wanted to be there for me and I lost her. I will never forget this day.