Doing the Mdantsane shuffle: boxers dream big in the gym of champions

Photographer Masi Losi and writer Leonie Wagner spent some time in Mdantsane in the Eastern Cape, the setting for the new South African film Knuckle City, to discover why this blighted township breeds so many boxing world champions

08 March 2020 - 00:00 By Leonie Wagner

Boxing gloves are lined up along the side of a dilapidated boxing ring, its ragged ropes held up by rusted bars. In the adjoining room, under a single flickering light, scuffed punching bags hang from exposed ceiling beams. The smell of sweat and damp wood lingers. Cockroaches scuttle into shadows as we enter.

This is the Eyethu Boxing Gym in Mdantsane, East London. It is where Ncedo Cecane, boxing trainer and former South African flyweight champion, produces champions. “Here in Mdantsane there’s only one sport that can buy someone a house and that’s boxing,” says Cecane...

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