The Boxing Economy of the Eastern Cape

What is the link between the national formal economy on the one hand, and on the other, local community based economic and leisure cultures, which may have been largely self-sustaining but interminably precarious? What goes with the working title of “the boxing economy of the Eastern Cape” seems one such local economy. For over three decades, and nicknamed “The Boxing Mecca” of South Africa, the boxing culture of East London/Mdantsane has produced no less than 20 world champions and more than 50 national champions. This achievement even by global standards is phenomenal.

This study is a reflective and speculative approach to this Eastern Cape boxing phenomenon. It links the narratives of three legendary boxers from their respective generations; traces continuities and discontinuities in a boxing culture that reveals enormous potential as a cohesive shaper of communal identity that works like an organic industry. Its pipe line of new boxers shows no sign of drying up.

The history of achievement also records some shocks that threaten the sustainability of this boxing culture. The prospects for social upliftment through a home-grown entertainment industry with rigorous professional demands on its core drivers, the boxers, have become uncertain some twenty years into post-apartheid South Africa.

Where are the roots of sustainability in interaction between national goals for universal redress and the energies of local experience? What and where are the points of convergence? The project is in the writing stage. The writing is well advanced and the intention is to complete it.

Project leader(s):
  • Njabulo Ndebele (Cape Town)

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