Xolisani Ndongeni hopes to start 2019 by causing a huge upset when he takes on great American hope Devin Haney tonight (Friday).
It’s a fight you don’t want to miss on BoxNation between the unbeaten pair. Ndongeni might be unknown outside South Africa, but with 25 wins it’s the type of fight where Haney has to prove he’s for real.
Here are 11 things you never knew about the Eastern Cape warrior:
1) He grew up in a very run down area Duncan Village, East London, a location he admits is “very dangerous”, but is steeped in fighting traditions and where former world champions Vuyani Bungu, Mbuleo Botile and Simphiwe Vetyeka hail from.
2) Ndongeni lives with his girlfriend and their two children.
3) In South Africa he is widely known by his nickname ‘Nomeva’ which means wasp.
4) He started boxing at the age of 17, and had a 30-4 amateur record. He turned professional in 2010 after a losing a disputed verdict at the National Championships.
5) Before boxing he had aspirations to be a professional rugby union player, but he accompanied his cousin Thabo Sishwana to the boxing gym and after watching a session joined in. He says: “I was just fascinated by their rhythm as they train because it was like they were dancing to a song.”
6) Although many expect Haney to be his hardest test, he claims his toughest opponent was Patrick Malinga who he outpointed in August 2014.
7) He is now trained by Peter Smith and had spells with Colin Duncan and Damien Durandt, the son of the late legendary South African trainer Nick Durandt.
8) He was voted South African Boxer of the Year in 2016 by Boxing SA (BSA), beating Zolani Tete to the prestigious prize.
9) He even has his own song, “Nank uNivema whee Nomeva,” which he sings and supporters chant out during his fights.
10) Ndongeni was brought up by his grandmother and when he made enough from boxing but her a house even before he had got himself a car.
11) His boxing hero is Chris Eubank Sr.