Why Hedda is 'the Shredder'

She gave up her studies to pursue her passion for boxing

18 March 2018 - 00:01 By DAVID ISAACSON

A local TV celebrity arrived for training at Colin Nathan's Hot Box gym in Johannesburg and was asked who he wanted to spar with.
"He said, 'anyone but Hedda'," recalls Nathan, who believes Hedda "The Shredder" Wolmarans can go all the way and become his first female fighter to win a world title one day.
"I've seen her drop a guy [with a punch] to the body ... she prefers sparring with men."
Wolmarans, who turns 29 at the end of the month, has a strong work ethic, illustrated by the bio-mechanical tattoos up her right arm, revealing the innards of an engine beneath her skin; she's like a machine.
The junior-welterweight was back at the gym this week, barely a week after her last bout, a four-rounder that was deemed the best fight on a male-dominated card.
Risky fight
Wolmarans improved her unbeaten record to three wins as she outpointed the more experienced former national champion Ndabayini Kholose, who went into the scrap with 14 fights under her belt.
Or put another way, her opponent had 96 professional rounds to Wolmarans's four.
"It was a risky fight," Wolmarans admitted. "I knew that I had very hard sparring and I was excited to go in and have a war, and a war is exactly what it was."
Wolmarans was a tennis ace as a teen, ranked top four in the country in her age group.
But she walked away from the sport at 17, having grown increasingly despondent. The final straw came after suffering an unexpected defeat. "I lost a match to a girl I really should have beaten."Wolmarans fell in love with boxing in 2011 after discovering it while studying mechanical engineering at Wits.
She initially didn't tell her parents, dad Hans, a minister and professor in Latin and Greek, and mom Hester, a former teacher now working for a company that helps people moving to South Africa.
Her successes quickly mounted, starting with her first amateur fight, which she won "in eight seconds or something like that".
"I hit her in the face quite a bit. She kinda went down and didn't get up ... she didn't like it," said Wolmarans, recalling it took time to learn the art of slipping punches.
She went on to win two South African amateur titles at different weights, and it became impossible to hide her secret from her parents any longer.
"I was in [the local knock and drop] so I said 'I've started boxing, here's an article, you guys can read it if you want'. But they have been supportive.
"Had I started boxing younger they may not have been - my dad has mentioned that he's worried about my brain."
She soon became consumed by pugilism. "My passion for boxing outweighed my will for studying," said Wolmarans, who switched to a B Com in sport management at the University of Johannesburg before doing her honours in sports science.
"I changed [degrees], so that I would know what to do with my conditioning, that's why I went and studied it because I was having trouble," said Wolmarans, who works as a strength and conditioning coach- with boxers and female rugby players among her clientele.
She was a tomboy growing up. "Mom said I was born with a ball in my hand. In nursery school when they asked us what we wanted to be, I wanted to go to the army."
Professional boxer is close enough. "The way you need to push yourself and the sacrifices that you need to make ... I embrace it.
"Who likes getting hit in the face? I don't really mind it. It makes you feel alive."..

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