How rising super-middleweight star learned to box to fight bullies at school

19 July 2018 - 11:20 By David Isaacson
Patrick Mukala and Reno Liebenberg during the Four go to War boxing bout at Emperors Palace on October 21, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Patrick Mukala and Reno Liebenberg during the Four go to War boxing bout at Emperors Palace on October 21, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Patrick Mukala‚ who makes the first defence of his WBA Pan Africa super-middleweight title at Carnival City on Friday night‚ took up boxing to fight school bullies at home in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Unbeatable as an arm-wrestler in the playgrounds‚ he also stood up for other kids who were picked on.

Two boys he beat up joined a boxing gym to hone their skills so they could turn the tables on him‚ and after a few months challenged him to join their gym so they could have a rematch.

“After a couple of months of training the coach said we could fight‚” Mukala recalled in an interview at trainer Ashley Fourie’s gym in Blairgowrie‚ Johannesburg.

“I moered them‚” he added with a smile.

“After that‚ on days that we sparred they wouldn’t come to training and eventually they both left to play soccer.”

Mukala‚ who has iced nine of his 10 victims in the paid ranks‚ handles himself well in sparring against heavier fighters‚ including cruiserweights and even heavyweights‚ says Fourie‚ a coach since 1972.

The hardest blows in boxing are what Fourie calls snap punches‚ which travel only six inches but fell the recipient.

“He’s an expert at it. I remember the first day Patrick came to the gym [in 2013]‚ he couldn’t speak English.

“After I watched him spar I went home and told my wife ‘I’ve got my first world champion’.”

Mukala’s only defeat to date came against experienced Ryno Liebenberg‚ losing on points over 10 rounds in October last year.

But he still did enough to impress.

“He’s a good fighter‚” said Liebenberg’s trainer‚ Colin Nathan.

“The loss to Ryno was no disgrace. He’s got a decent technique and he has the potential to go places.”

Mukala is confident of getting past Ibrahim Maokola of Tanzania on the bill‚ Fox Sports Africa's first tournament in Johannesburg.

“He’s tough‚ but not like me. I’m going to knock him out.”

Mukala has 10 wins (9 KOs) and a single loss‚ compared to Maokola’s 12 victories (8 KOs)‚ six defeats and a draw.

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