My introduction to boxing

my introduction to boxing

I grew up in a single female only family. South Africa received television in 1975, however we only got a television set in 1980. Things that happened overseas reached us months and even years later due to restrictions on communication because of apartheid and off course South Africa being behind on technologies. Life was about to change


We were visiting my Aunt and Uncle while on school holiday. They didn’t have a television either but other family members in another town 2 hours drive away did have a TV. The date 24 June 1979 was the night I was introduced to South Africa participating on the international stage. This was my introduction to boxing


In South Africa boxing was very big and favored by all races and a popular event in local sport centers around the country. Every newspaper used to have photo spreads in the back for boxing mad fans to enjoy. I didn’t know much about it though.


I was 14 years old. My Aunt told us to wrap up warmly as it was in the middle of winter at the time. The house was full of excitement with everyone talking about the big international boxing match that would be broadcast live on television to South Africa as a South African was scheduled to fight that night.


The South African Gerrie Coetzee was at the height of his career as a heavy weight boxer. He stood 6.3 in his shoes therefore a tall man with big hands. Hands that could throw a punch for sure. Leon Spinks was his opponent for the fight, a seasoned boxer from America.


Monte Carlo, Monaco was set to host the fight between Gerrie Coetzee and Leon Spinks while being send live to the world including South Africa.

We got ready early not wanting to miss a thing of this exciting event. My Mom and Aunt packed a basket with snacks for us to eat during the fight. We were told that it was a very important event and that the children must be at their best behavior and silent so that the adults could savor every moment. I took along my knitting and something to read as well as playing cards. The fight could last for hours I thought.

During the 2 hour drive, the car was filled with happy voices and excitement and lots of talking about who would win the fight.


Upon arrival at our destination, the men and boys took the best seats in front of the television while the women made tea and decorated a table with some lovely snacks.

‘Are you finished?’ My Uncle asked. “The fight is about to start”I remember going to the bathroom when the living room began to roar. I came into the living room just as this black guy with the big hair threw a punch at our home boy. I was amazed at how the boxers moved. My Mom asked me to hand out the tea and snacks and just as I was about to take the tray, everyone in the room jumped in the air.

Gerrie, Gerrie, Gerrie they shouted. Gerrie Coetzee just knocked Leon Spinks down after just a few seconds. I turned around to take the tray and when I picked it up, Leon was down again and before I could reach the guests with the snacks, the fight was over and Gerrie Coetzee was a Hero. The fight was over in 2 minutes – before I could sit down and before anyone had a bite.

I was stunned. I have never seen any game over in such a short time. I will never forget my introduction to boxing as it is etched in my memory.


We did however finally enjoyed the snacks and drinks while everyone was talking about the fight and how good Gerrie Coetzee was with a lot of extras added to make everything just that little more bigger and better. Finally we drove the long way home and while the adults were still talking about the fight, we fell asleep in the back of the car. Mission accomplished


John Underwood wrote a step by step article about the fight and it is worth the read.


Gerrie was and still is very well loved in South Africa but jokes were made about his hands that were always sore and injured. Gerrie was nicknamed Bionic Hand because of his troubled right hand. A local musician Leon Schuster wrote a song about him called Gerrie seer handjies Coetzee. Translated, it means Gerrie sore hands Coetzee.


In 2010 Gerrie was accused and charged for running an unregistered dental practice involving false teeth which had the country roared with laughter and jokes. He was however acquitted from any wrong doing in 2013.


Gerrie continues to inspire people and are a sought after motivational speaker, a humble man, respected by many. He met Nelson Mandela (photo of the two on his website) and is still very active with a movie about his spectacular life coming to the big screen in 2020

Read more:

While I still think back about that night in 1979 with my introduction to boxing with fondness, I also want to give people Hope for a better life and future and compiled some tips to start and end your day with success.


Watch the fight between Gerrie Coetzee and Leon Spinks

Gerrie have an official website

Gerrie charged about false teeth

Gerrie acquitted of all charges

Gerrie the movie coming to Hollywood

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