Cassius Baloyi turned professional in 1994 and captured the vacant IBF super featherweight title in 2005 with TKO win over Manuel Medina. Baloyi is a former world champion with IBO, WBO, WBC, AND IBF tittle wins over his entire career. In 2003 he was named boxer of the year at the South African boxing awards. Baloyi currently runs his own gym in Bruma, Johannesburg.
Baloyi joined Afrika Tikkun’s Alexandra Centre in Alexandra Township (‘Alex’) in February. Here he trains and develops young, underprivileged boxing talent in the community for free.
“I’m doing this just to give back to the community, and to go back to my roots, and to get the kids out of the streets. [That] is my goal. I want to make one or three or four guys here become champions – but at an amateur stage and then make them professionals. But my main goal is to make one of these kids an Olympian and win Olympic gold, bronze or silver,” said Baloyi.
Asked why they chose the Afrika Tikkun Centre, coach, Lillian Gravell said, “Basically I’m a believer in Cassius and his dream is to grow an amateur gym and to give back to the community. It was up to me to find a way, and fortunately we found this place and we started right away.
Gravell says the facility is one of the best. “The hall that we [are] using is nice, [it has] got the basics, but if the kids are going to grow, it is not adequate. We have the gym in Sandton, with boxing rings and everything we need there. The kids that pass the grading, will go to that gym and [we will] train them there. We would love to have more gloves and ropes, but the punching bags and everything else is perfect,” she adds.
One of the young boxers, Koketso Nakana (15) commented on their training sessions. “I feel very excited for this opportunity that we got, and also I would love to thank Afrika Tikkun organisation, our coaches, Cassius Baloyi and Lillian Gravell. My role model is definitely Cassius Baloyi and my dream is to be one of the best boxers in the world”.
Training sessions take place every Tuesday and Thursday from 15:00 till 16:00 at Afrika Tikkun centre in Alexandra.
Image 1: Afrika Tikkun boxing team from Alex
Image 2: Cassius Baloyi and one of the boxers, Koketso Nakana during a session