At dusk on this warm evening, Phillip ‘The Time Bomb’ Ndou was ready to go off. In a red gown with white flowing frills, he felt like a king. He danced his way to the ring with the chutzpah of a boxer at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. But this was Thohoyandou, in rural Limpopo, in South Africa, 500 kilometers north of Johannesburg and a million miles from the rest of the world. Through a cacophony of ululations and chants in Tshivenda, Ndou stepped into the ring for the first time in his hometown after a lifetime as a professional.
Boxing fans journeyed from Johannesburg for this fight that is in the heart of the Venda people. People from these parts are accustomed to a different type of boxing, called musangwe, hosted by the Venda king in Gaba Village, near Thohoyandou, every December. Musangwe is tough bare-knuckle boxing with no weigh-in restrictions. This is where Ndou landed his first punch as a young boy growing up in Golgotha Section, a few kilometers from Thohoyandou.
“I have always wanted to fight at home but that never happened for almost 20 years. My manager and promoter, Promise [Moyo], made it possible for me to live my dream,” says Ndou.
Moyo, a civil servant for 15 years, is now the director of Skylon Promotions that promotes Ndou and four other professional boxers.
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