first_imgDingaan Thobela established himself as a charismatic, gifted fighter and a favourite of the South African public.Former boxing champion Dingaan Thobela is known as “The Rose of Soweto”.(Image: Cara Viereckl, via IOL)Brand South Africa reporterDingaan Thobela has proved himself as one of South Africa’s most talented boxers, although perhaps not the most hardworking fighter. The charismatic Thobela started his professional career in 1986 as a junior welterweight, but has since moved up to the light heavyweight ranks – representing a rise of almost 16 kilograms.He has even spoken of possibly campaigning as a heavyweight whether he was serious or not remains to be seen.After an amateur career that saw him win 80 times and lose just three bouts, Thobela’s first professional fight pitted him against Quinton Ryan, a bout he won in four rounds. The slick-punching Thobela was held to a draw in his fourth fight, but proceeded to win 25 fights in a row over the next five years, registering 19 wins by knockout along the way.Dingaan Thobela starts his professional career in 1986 as a junior welterweight, but later moved up to the light heavyweight ranks – representing a rise of almost 16 kilograms. (Image: African Ring)Fighting outside South AfricaAs he scored more and more wins, Thobela became increasingly marketable and began to fight outside of South Africa. In 1990, three of his five fights were in the United States and all three ended in victories, two by knockout over Pascual Aranda and Mauricio Aceves who he both disposed of in the fifth round.In 1991, Thobela’s three contests were all won on points, and in 1992 he fought only twice, defeating Tony Foster over eight rounds and stopping Peter Till in nine rounds.At the beginning of February 1993, “The Rose of Soweto” took on Tony Lopez for the WBA lightweight title. Lopez had previously fought twice against South African boxing legend Brian Mitchell. Mitchell, who retired as WBA champion after 13 successful title defences, had fought Lopez in Sacramento on both occasions. The first bout ended in a controversial draw and Mitchell left the matter in no doubt the second time around.Controversial lossThobela discovered how difficult it was to win in Lopez’ backyard when he lost on a controversial points decision. Four months later he faced Lopez at Sun City, and this time he captured the title.Thobela made his first defence in October, but came up against a superior fighter in the unbeaten Orzubek Nazarov, who claimed a convincing 12-round decision. Thobela challenged for the title again in March 1994, but Nazarov had his number and won over 12 rounds in a repeat of his previous victory. Later in the year Thobela faced journeyman Karl Taylor in England and was surprisingly knocked out in the eighth round of their contest.In 1995 Thobela got back on track with five victories, all of them by knockout, and added a further two KO victories by June 1996. However, matters went haywire again for “The Rose” when he faced Geoff McCreesh in November. McCreesh, who came into the fight with a record of 15 wins and three losses, mostly against little-known British opponents, stunned Thobela in the second round, sending the South African to the canvas for a huge upset victory.Beaten by a journeymanIn his next fight, in March 1997, Thobela was beaten by American journeyman Willy Wise, who came into the fight with 21 wins – only six by knockout – three losses and four draws. The South African was favoured to win, but Wise secured a points victory.Questions were being asked about Thobela’s commitment, but he secured a big win later in the year, defeating fellow South African Gary Murray on a fourth-round TKO. In 1998 he fought only once, drawing against Carlos Baldomir over 12 rounds. Thobela looked rusty and out of shape and doubts grew about his boxing career.However, he returned for two fights in 1999. He won in seven rounds against Walter Danett, but was beaten on points by Cornelius Carr for the WBF middleweight title.World title winIn early 2000 he won a points decision over Soon Botes to earn a crack at Glen Catley’s WBC super middleweight title. The Briton was heavily favoured to retain his crown, but Thobela, way behind on all three judges’ scorecards, staged a strong finish, dramatically knocking Catley out with only seconds remaining in the bout. He was once again a world champion.As had happened previously, Thobela was unable to defend his world title, losing to Canada’s Dave Hilton on a controversial points decision in Montreal. Shortly afterwards, Hilton was jailed for rape and Thobela was given another crack at the title against Eric Lucas in November 2001. He struggled to make the weight, however, and Lucas dominated the fight before winning on a TKO in the eighth round.Thobela was a natural: a gifted boxer who, at the the height of his career, established himself as a charismatic, gifted fighter and a favourite of the South African public.Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

first_imgAjay Jayaram is close to achieving his dream of competing in the Olympics. He is the highest-ranked Indian shuttler in the men’s singles at 27 followed by Parupalli Kashyap (31).To qualify for the London Olympics, Jayaram has to ensure that he stays ahead of his compatriot till the rankings are freezed on May 3.The Asian Badminton Championships and the India Open Super Series are the two upcoming tournaments in which Jayaram will look to maintain his ranking.The soft-spoken Mumbai boy said that though he is trying not to think of Olympic qualification, it is there at the back of his mind.”My focus will be to give my best, but I cannot deny that there is pressure. After all, it is the Olympics and it is the dream of every athlete to compete in the Olympics.” Jayaram told Mail Today.”However, I feel that competing is not enough, winning medals is what counts.”Jayaram has been making waves since 2010, steadily climbing the rankings and leaving behind his compatriots to become the top Indian in singles. “Last year was very good for me. I played well against the world’s top players like Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan and it was a huge morale- booster. After the good results I had last year, I really thought I can qualify for the Olympics.”What I have been lacking is consistency and I am working on my game to be able to beat the top players. I know I have the potential to crack the top-10. I will be striving hard to get there in the next one year.”advertisementJayaram, who is training under English coach Tom John, said he has added the aggressive streak that was missing in his game.”My game is based on deception and I lacked aggressive shots. To compete against the best in the world, you need to have a blend of deceptive shots and aggressive strokes.”My stint with Tom John in Portugal last year has helped me get better. I have been training under him since then. He can make you work hard like an animal and it toughens you up. My fitness has also improved. I know what to expect from my coach once I start preparing for the Olympics. It will be tough but I am prepared to train hard.”While the likes of Jayaram and Kashyap have been floating in the 30s as far as the rankings are concerned, they have not been able to emulate Saina Nehwal and touch the upper echelons. “Mental toughness is very important. Somebody like Saina has been able to go so far because she is mentally very strong. We are not lacking in skills but have to be more consistent and mentally tough to take on the top players.”last_img read more

first_imgSRH vs KXIPWelcome to the live coverage of the 39th match of the IPL between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kings XI Punjab from Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Uppal, Hyderabad. FULL COVERAGERidign high on brilliant batting performances from Wriddhiman Saha (54 off 26), Manan Vohra (47 off 20) Glenn Maxwell (43 off 22) Punjab once again managed to chase a huge total of 206 runs by Sunrisers Hyderabad. Earlier, after being invited to bat first, Hyderabad’s Naman Ojha’s explosive batting (79 off 36) helped SRH reach 205 but they, as a team failed to defend the total. Saha was declared man of the match.  Now Glenn Maxwell coming in to bat after Saha’s departure.7.1 over: Big blow for Punjab, Saha (54 off 26) has been dismissed, stumped by Naman Ojha. Punjab 95/2. 0.2 over: Early jolt to Punjab, Sehwag has been sent back by Bhuvneshwar. Sehwag (4 off 2) c&b Kumar Manan Vohra and Virender Sehwag have a tough task ahead. Bhuvneshwar Kumar will open Sunrisers bowling attack. After being invited to bat first, Sunrisers Hyderabad managed to put up a huge total of 205 against the Punjab. Hyderabad’s opening pair Dhawan and Finch gave a steady start and later an explosive innings from Naman Ojha (79 off 36) powered them to a post 200 runs total. Shikhar Dhawan (45 0ff 37) and David Warner (44 of 23) also contributed with their clinical innings.     18.1 over: Davind Warner looking for second but was stopped by Ojha and it’s a run out…David Warner’s (44 off 23) innings comes to an end.18.0 over: Hyderabad 157/2. Naman Ojha (48 off 28) and David Warner (41 off 22) on crease11.1 over: Rishi Dhawan to Shikhar Dhawan….and it’s a wicket…Dhawan caught by Shivam Sharma. Hyderabad losing its second wicket.advertisement10.0 over: Hyderabad 72/1, Shikhar Dhawan (42) and Naman Ojha (3) on crease.8.1 over: Shivam Sharma inflicts the first blow to Hyderabad…Aaron Finch (20 off 23) is going back to pavilion after being bowled out. Thus Hyderabad loses first wicket. 7.5 over: Akshar Patel has been very economical so far and Shikhar Dhawan has punished him with a six.5.0 over: Hyderabad 49/0 with their opening pair- Shikhar Dhawan (27 off 19) and Aaron Finch (16 off 13) firm on crease.0.6 over: End of the first over and Hyderabad 6/0.Hyderabad openers- Shikhar Dhawan and Aaron Finch on the crease to lead charge. Sandeep Sharma will open Punjab’s bowling attack.   Punjab have brought in Manan Vohra and Shivam Sharma into the playing XI. Hyderabad team is unchanged.Toss: KXIP elected to field after winning the toss.Team Profiles:Sunrisers Hyderabad:The last year’s surprise package, Sunrisers Hyderabad, took the IPL by storm after a spectacular fourth rank finish in 2013. The team is led by Team India’s star batsman Shikhar Dhawan while Tom Moody has been appointed as their head coach.The team, who spent Rs 59 crore, was amongst the big spenders in IPL Auction this year. Sunrisers Hyderabad splurged a whopping Rs 5.5 crore for David Warner and Rs 4 crore for Aaron Finch to strengthen their batting-order.Their skipper Shikhar Dhawan brings the much-needed fire-power up in the team’s batting-order. And his partnerships with Warner and Finch will only boost their chances of chasing or posting big totals this season.South African speedster Dale Steyn will lead their bowling attack alongside Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma with the new ball. In the spin department, Sunrisers will count on the in-form Amit Mishra who will be supported by Parveez Rasool and Karan Sharma.In Darren Sammy, Moises Henriques, Irfan Pathan and Jason Holder, Sunrisers Hyderabad boasts of quality all-rounders capable of turning the game around for the team.Kings XI Punjab:In a desperate bid to yield some positive results this season, Kings XI splashed it all to secure some of the biggest names in limited-overs cricket during the IPL Auction this year.Kings XI skipper George Bailey, Virender Sehwag and Shaun Marsh are amongst the mainstays of the team’s batting line-up, while all-rounders Thisara Perera, Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Johnson are capable of moulding their game in accordance to the situation. Don’t forget the swashbuckling David Miller, who was the star performer for Punjab in 2012.Australian speedster Mitchell Johnson will lead the bowling attack for Kings XI Punjab alongside Sandeep Sharma, Thisara Perera and Lakshmipathy Balaji. Punjab also secured the services of vastly experienced Murali Karthik to spearhead their spin-bowling attack.With the addition of South Africa’s young seamer Beuran Hendricks in the squad, Kings XI can use extra pace to rattle their opponents this season.Five key players from Sunrisers Hyderabad:David Warner: The ‘pocket dynamite’ is currently in the form of his life following a spectacular show against England and South Africa recently. His ability to launch the ball back into the stands at will makes him one the most dangerous opening batsman in limited over cricket. He is the first Australian cricketer in 132 years to be selected for a National team without playing first-class cricket. Warner also became the first cricketer to record centuries in back to back T20 matches. His batting prowess makes him a T20 specialist with over 1200 runs to his name in the shortest version of the game. The explosive southpaw is touted to be one of the most influential players for Hyderabad this season.advertisementDale Steyn: The world’s no. 1 Test and second-ranked ODI bowler has been the backbone of South Africa’s bowling attack over the years now. The South African speedster swings the ball away from the right-hander and at a fair clip. Rarely do opposition openers line up to take the attack to the fiery pacer. Steyn thus is quite economical and as a strike bowler he is the go to man for his captain in need of wickets. In 2013 IPL, he took 19 wickets in 17 games at an economy rate of just over 5 and a half to bolster Sunrisers Hyderabad against their competitors. His ability to bowl with pinpoint accuracy and fierce pace makes him a batsman’s worst nightmare. With 46 wickets to his name, Steyn boasts of 4/9 as his best bowling figures in T20 internationals. The South African Steyn-gun comes to the party more often than not and will be a key player for Sunrisers in the tournament.Shikhar Dhawan: The southpaw from Delhi has got to be a household name by now, thanks to his aggressive batting and twirled moustache. The Indian opener has notched up an average of 41.77 with over 1500 runs including five tons and five half-centuries in ODIs. With an arsenal of traditional strokes and a cover drive that can liven up a dull crowd, Dhawan is just the guy you need to threaten the opposition. With over 300 runs in a mere 10 games, Dhawan was the top-scorer for Hyderabad in the IPL last season. As Hyderabad readies the ship to embark on another high-impact journey this season, their skipper Dhawan will be expected to set the heart racing for their fans once again in the IPL.Amit Mishra: The 30-year-old leg-break bowler from Delhi, Amit Mishra, is a wicket-taking yet economical bowler in the shortest version of cricket. He was impressive in IPL 2008 when he picked up a hat-trick while playing for the Delhi Daredevils. Mishra was the highest wicket-taker for now-defunct Deccan Chargers with 19 wickets in 14 matches in 2012. He was also the highest wicket-taker with 21 scalps in 17 games for Sunrisers Hyderabad last season. His team will be happy with his superlative performance for India in World T20 and will be hoping he continues his good run in IPL this year.Aaron Finch: The 27-year-old Victoria batsman has turned into a specialist in limited overs cricket for Australia in the recent years. With over 500 runs in T20 internationals, Finch is more than capable of stealing the game away from the opposition. His ability to strike the ball hard and long makes him a consistent run-getter for his team. His knock of 156 runs against England in 2013 witnessed 14 magnanimous sixes. He also slammed 456 runs for the now-defunct Sahara Pune Warriors in the IPL last season. Finch will be crucial in accelerating the innings in dire situations for Sunrisers Hyderabad this season.advertisementFive key players from Kings XI Punjab:Mitchell Johnson: The 32-year-old speedster has literally turned into a weapon of mass destruction for Australia, as far as the game of cricket is concerned. With 24 wickets in 17 games, the left-arm seamer was the key in Mumbai Indians triumph in IPL last season. His ability to extract late swing at a ferocious pace makes him one of the most effective bowlers in the world today. His frightening pace and malevolent demeanour has earned him 38 scalps in 30 T20 internationals. Apart from his bowling skills, Johnson is more than just a handy batsman with the ability to clear the fence whenever required. In the format where quick wickets are bound to make an impact almost immediately, Johnson is a must-have weapon in your armory.David Miller: The 24-year-old South African, aka ‘Killer Miller’ in IPL, is as explosive as they come in limited-overs cricket. After making a name for his power-hitting, Miller has turned into a gruesome strokeplayer in modern-day cricket. His ability to play a wide range of strokes, both off the front and backfoot has earned him quite a reputation in international cricket. Miller was also one of the most entertaining batsmen in the IPL last season. The young South African took the IPL by storm after scoring 418 runs with 28 fours and 24 sixes for Kings XI Punjab in 2013. The performance impressed his team owners to such an extent that he became one of the only two players to be retained by KXIP ahead of 2014 IPL auctions.Thisara Perera: The 24-year-old Sri Lankan has turned into one of the most prolific all-rounders in limited-overs cricket lately. His aggressive batting style and ability to pick crucial wickets make him a crucial player for the Lankans. Perera was sensational in his 2013 IPL season after he slammed 233 runs and notched up 19 wickets for Sunrisers Hyderabad in a mere 16 games. He is also the only fourth Sri Lankan bowler to take a hat-trick in ODIs – a feat that came against Pakistan in 2012. With over 300 runs and 22 wickets in T20 internationals, Perera is likely to be one of the impact players for Kings XI Punjab in this year’s IPL.Glenn Maxwell: The million-dollar man last season, Maxwell was snatched by Kings XI Punjab for a whopping Rs 6 crore this year. The 25-year-old is a terrific all-rounder to have in your side. He can bowl right-arm off-spin and bat anywhere in the middle-order. He shot to fame after smashing a 19-ball half-century in 2009-10 – the fastest fifty in Australia’s domestic cricket. His most recent antics of 33-ball 74, the third fastest fifty in T20 internationals, shows his batting prowess. He will have to play a key role if Punjab intend to clinch their first IPL title this year.George Bailey: The 31-year-old Australian batsman will lead the new-look Kings XI Punjab in the IPL this season. With over 1400 runs in T20 internationals alongside 12 ODI fifties and two centuries, Bailey is one of the most bankable cricketers in modern-day cricket. The Tasmanian cricketer is an exquisite striker of the ball and capable of employing big shots to change the match within a few overs. His presence in the team will undoubtedly strengthen the middle-order for Kings XI Punjab.last_img read more