Zizipho Kuzo and Rushta Mallick: Female boxers

Siyabonga Kalipa
Zizipho Kuza ready for her second professional boxing fight. Photo by Siyabonga Kalipa.
Siyabonga Kalipa

Siyabonga Kalipa speaks to two female boxers. They will confront each other in the ring at OR Tambo Hall in Khayelitsha on the weekend of 30 August.

Zizipho Kuza from Lower Crossroads is a 25-year-old mother of an 8-year-old boy. She is also a professional boxer.

Groundup: How were you introduced to the sport of boxing?

Zizipho: I was never into any sports before taking up boxing. I love the sport very much. A neighbour had a boxing gym in my street. Me and friends of mine used to go and watch guys fight. In 2001, my neighbour who became my coach introduced me to the sport when he organised a tournament and invited us to fight in it.

GroundUp: When did you turn professional?

Zizipho: I turned professional in March this year. I’ve only had one fight, which I lost in East London.

GroundUp: What do people say about you, a mother, being involved in the sport?

Zizipho: People are always surprised to hear that I’m a boxer … and will always ask questions. A lot of them think I’m doing it just so I can be able to defend myself, but I actually take it serious.

GroundUp: How do other boxers treat you in your club?

Zizipho: I get a lot of respect from my colleagues and they treat me as their equal at training. Outside training they see me as a lady .

GroundUp: What difficulties do you come up against as a female in the sport?

Zizipho: From home my grandmother was the only person who gave me support; my mother never understood why I wanted to be a boxer. I think it’s because she thinks I will get hurt, but it comes with the sport.

GroundUp: What have you achieved in the sport so far?

Zizipho: In 2005, I won a gold medal in a tournament in Bloemfontein and won another gold medal in Vereeniging in 2006. At the University of Pretoria, I was awarded best boxer of the tournament, and of course my greatest achievement so far is turning pro.

GroundUp: What are you still hoping to achieve?

Zizipho: I want to be a champion and win a South African title and one day win a world title.

GroundUp: What do you think of your lightweight division fight against Rushta Mallick this coming weekend?

Zizipho: I’m ready for Saturday. I’ve been preparing for three weeks now. I will teach Rushta how to box and a knockout will just come.

GroundUp: What message do you have for young girls who would like to take up boxing one day?

Zizipho: A lot of women don’t want anything to do with boxing. They don’t even want to talk about it. But if you feel you love the sport and would like to take it up, just follow your heart and don’t let what people say stop you.


Rushta Mallick ready for her first professional boxing fight. Photo by Siyabonga Kalipa.

25-year-old Rushta Mallick from Cape Town left kickboxing so she could become a boxing professional. This weekend will be her first professional fight.

GroundUp: How were you introduced to the sport of boxing?

Rushta: I used to do Muay Thai before taking up boxing. I love sports very much. I currently work as a personal trainer. I met a promoter who saw me kickboxing and introduced me to the sport and I since fell in love with boxing.

GroundUp: What do people say about what you do?

Rushta: I get a lot of comments from people. Some are shocked that I’m a boxer. They underestimate me because I’m a woman, saying I can’t box because I’m not strong enough and I don’t have the skills. But I always prove them wrong.

GroundUp: How do other boxers treat you in your club?

Rushta: In the beginning they didn’t think of me as a boxer. They just saw another woman. But after they saw me train, they started respecting me as a boxer. I always have to prove myself which I find annoying; people should just look beyond one’s sex.

GroundUp: What difficulties do you come up against as a female in the sport?

Rushta: The one difficulty that I’m faced with is finding opponents in my division in Cape Town. There aren’t many female boxers in the province which makes it hard for me because I want to fight.

GroundUp: What have you achieved in the sport so far?

Rushta: I haven’t won any titles because I haven’t fought title fights yet. But turning pro, training with good boxers, and learning from them has been my biggest achievement so far.

GroundUp: What are you hoping to achieve?

Rushta: One day I would like to win a South African, continental and a world title in my weight division. I would also like to use the experience I’ve gained and my skills to help young children.

GroundUp: What do you think of your lightweight division fight against Zizipho Kuza this coming weekend?

Rushta: I don’t like to talk before the fight. I wait until I get into the ring and let my actions do the talking. I’ve seen Zizipho and I know she’s going to come with guns blazing. I expect a tough fight.

GroundUp: What message do you have for young girls who would like to take up boxing one day?

Rushta: Follow your dreams, find yourself a good trainer, always be disciplined, and train very hard.

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TOPICS:  Sport

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