Boxing gogos pack a punch


Claude Maphosa floats around the ring. His feet dance as his hands absorb the punches of his student through padded mitts. Staying just a step ahead, he encourages her to anticipate his movements. For a second she’s on the pace. Then off. She lands a flurry of punches. Maphosa sidesteps. Her mentor is too wily for her at this game, but she loves the challenge. Boxing has been keeping her fit and happy for six years now. Since she was 72.

This pupil is one of over a dozen gogos training with Maphosa every week. The fitness instructor opened his gym to help people get in shape, but was shocked to find that those most eager to attend his classes were elders in his community. “Age should never stop you from enjoying what you love,” says Maphosa, who has been involved in sports since he was five.

“People often think that because they are old they can’t physically exercise,” he explains, “but boxing is for everyone.” Aside from improving fitness, it acts as a form of therapy. Even for grannies. Those who spend regular time in the ring testify to the sport’s physical and mental rewards. The joy beaming from the faces of his gogos each time they spar is enough to let Maphosa know he’s making a difference.