Imizamo Yethu boxer gets his hands dirty for his community

Sandiso Centane with his coach in Imizamo Yethu.

More than 800 people were left displaced after 200 informal settlements caught a blaze in Molokoane Street.

Sisonke Boxing Club’s professional boxer, Sandiso Centane, from eBhayi, a small settlement only metres away from the area that caught a blaze, helped to clean, rebuild and move all the burnt material, and donated some of his belongings to those that were in need.

The mini-flyweight boxer, Centane realised around 1am on Sunday morning there was an unusual scorch and loud noises. He woke up and joined a group of community members who tried to put off the fire until firefighters extinguished the remains between 2.18am and 11.48am.

“I heard people shout “it’s burning” and I could smell the fire so I rushed to the door to check if it is not too close. I got dressed and went to wake up my older brother on the other side. I packed everything we have first so in case the fire reaches our home. I went to help our people,” he said.

Centane said no one exactly knows how the fire started, however, there are rumours of an allegedly drunk man who fell asleep while smoking a cigarette and his house burnt down.

The 22-year-old “The Moving Skeleton”, has over 100 amateur fights, including five losses. He recently went professional, and has a win and a loss in his last two fights, prior to the pandemic.

His training videos on Instagram have sparked a lot of support from his community.

He said he trains and jogs often, and, his coach and his father’s twin brother, Bongile Centane, often comes over to help him with pad and punching bag workouts.

“To be a professional boxer from IY is one of the best things in my life because many kids look up to me and I feel like I can bring change in the community,” he said.

Inspired by a world champion with a record of eight-weight-class-division belts, Philippines’ Manny Pacquiao, Centane said he wants to work his way up into the provincial, national and international rankings, in order to become a world champion himself.

“I want to become world champion. My coach, who is also my father’s brother, used to always take me to the gym to watch them train, then I fell in love with the sport. I am inspired by Pac-Man…

“He came from nothing to where he is now and he is a hero to his nation. No boxer has ever done that and it is very unlikely that there will ever be another boxer that can achieve that,” Centane said.

He said his background is the reason he strives to become an inspiration to his society.

“It doesn’t really matter where you come from or who you are, to become whatever you wish to be all it takes is dedication and hard work,”