After 68 years‚ another South African gets his Ring belt
Hekkie Budler finally took possession of the colourful The Ring magazine belt on Wednesday night‚ making him officially the second South African to wear the strap.
Budler lifted the crown when he defeated junior-flyweight king Ryoichi Taguchi of Japan‚ also the IBF and WBA champion‚ in his home land in late May.
The last South African to wear the belt was Vic Toweel‚ the undisputed world bantamweight champion from 1950-52.
Not only had Budler’s 64-year-old father‚ also Hekkie‚ not been born by then‚ but Sandton City‚ the scene of Wednesday night’s belt presentation‚ hadn’t even been built.
Budler has now amassed 11 belts — one for each year of his professional years‚ and they feature the WBA‚ IBF and IBO championships — but it was not difficult to work out which one was his favourite.
“It [The Ring belt] feels much better‚” said Budler‚ 30.
“Winning this is the second greatest honour of my life — the first was getting married.”
The belt is engraved with Budler's name as well as the date and venue of his points victory.
Wife Roxy‚ mom Karin and his dad Hekkie were on hand to watch the handover along with his two sparring partners‚ newly crowned IBF flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane and IBO strawweight titleholder Simphiwe Khonco.
Since winning the three belts more than two months ago‚ Budler has vacated the IBF title; the sanctioning body’s purse bid for a mandatory defence would have earned him peanuts.
“He’ll definitely fight before the end of the year‚” said manager-trainer Colin Nathan.
“He and Moruti will have one fight each before the end of the year.”
Boxing historian Ron Jackson‚ one of the few people at the function who was alive when Toweel ruled the bantamweight division‚ said there was no special handover back then‚ with the Ring belt being shipped over.
But if South Africa has to wait another 68 years for their next Ring champion‚ the moment will happen in 2086‚ and the boxer will surely have to be born by 2050 at the earliest.
Another Tiso Blackstar reporter will have to cover that one.