Pic caption: Nkosana Mgxaji is regarded as the father of boxing in the Eastern Cape.
In the Eastern Cape the name Nkosana” Happyboy” Mgxaji is synonymous with local boxing so much that its history cannot be narrated without mentioning his name. Having mesmerised boxing fans with his natural and unique boxing style, ring craft and speed over the years, 1963 was the year that Mgxaji introduced himself to the boxing fraternity at the championships in Port Elizabeth.
Born in Duncan Village, ( then known as Tsolo ) East London in 1949, Mgxaji came from a poor background where her mother sold vegetables to make living. A gifted young man he was also good at rugby but chose boxing so that he can defend himself in the rough streets of the township. His chance visit to a boxing gym at the Peacock hall while he was in standard six influenced his choice, little did he know that choice would later enable him to assist his struggling mother financially later on.
Legend has it that when he turned professional in 1968 he had no formal trainer, relying on his methods of training like wood chopping, running and walking at the beach.
In 1966 he was chosen to be part of an amateur South African team to tour Italy where he was beaten in the finals after he got injured, but redeemed himself by coming back the following year to win the national amateur featherweight title.
In the early 1970’s Mgxaji was known to be a huge crowd-puller who was alleged to attract more than 25000 fans at the famous Sisa Dukashe stadium each time he fought there, a feat never achieved by any other boxer locally.
Mgxaji held the national junior lightweight belt for 12 years and retired in 1985 with the a record of 88 fights in his career, 9 losses, 4 draws and 20 knockouts and like most local champions he died with nothing much to show for his achievements in 2011 at the age of 61 years.
His poorly done statue which had many tongues wagging in the local boxing fraternity is a crumbling small structure located outside the same Sisa Dukashe stadium where he vanquished many opponents, the only reminder of this great gladiator.