Port Elizabeth's Noni Tenge ready to defend super welterweight title

Age no drawback for boxer

Noni Tenge is put through her paces by trainer Winston Wilson.
Noni Tenge is put through her paces by trainer Winston Wilson.
Image: Fredlin Adriaan

Noni “She Bee Stinging” Tenge still packs a mean punch even though she is in the twilight years of her career, the experienced boxer says.

The 37-year-old, who is now based in Port Elizabeth after having spent most of her life in East London, is keen to show she still has what it takes when she makes a mandatory defence of her WBF super welterweight world title in Las Vegas in January.

Her opponent is yet to be named.

Tenge will have a warm-up fight in December to shake off the ring rust as she has not fought for almost a year.

Her last fight was against Mapule Ngubane for the WBF female super welterweight title in September 2017.

Tenge has a record of 18 wins, one defeat and a draw from 20 outings.

“It’s almost a year now without fighting,” she said on Wednesday.

“You are normally given a year-and-a-half by the WBF to defend your title and if you can’t defend it in that period, they strip you of the title.

“I have already been stripped of two titles.

“As an SA woman boxer I thought things would be easy for me because I was the only one who held five world titles in SA and even Africa as a whole.

“My WBF world title belt is now at risk and I have to defend it within six months.”

Tenge said she had lost about R300,000 in appearance fees already after cancelling two defence dates in 2018.

The boxer blamed her previous management for the loss.

“Now the president of the organisation gave me a call and said, ‘Noni, you have to defend your title within six months’.

“If you can’t do that we will have to take the title.

“My previous management failed me because I have been stripped of two titles already.

“Now this is the third one. Imagine if they take this one as well. What is the use of doing something you love, but you can’t get the support?

“I am the only female boxer on the continent who has held five world titles but there is not even one sponsor that has come forward.”

Talking about it her move from East London to PE, the world champion said it was not easy.

“I think I am in good hands here. I have been told the only thing I need to do now is to focus on my fight, which is next year.

Noni Tenge
Noni Tenge
Image: Fredlin Adriaan

“I have only three years left. I do not want to still be fighting as a 40-year-old.

“I want to make the hall of fame, I want to quit as a champion. That is my dream.

“I was struggling to get fights because there are very few females in South Africa and even internationally.

“Ever since I became a champion I thought I would have money, but it’s the opposite. Inside I am suffering.

“My former bosses Rassie and Nicky Erasmus offered me a job.

“I was part of the antipoaching unit at Black Water Operations. They then negotiated with my manager and trainer Winston Wilson for me to come and train with Edge Fitness Gym.

Wilson said Tenge was on track with her training.

“Noni always has a general fitness. She runs to the gym every morning from Cotswold, so she is fit,” Wilson said.

“She is ready to fight now, but she just needs to get fitter and stronger.

“But, obviously there will be new challenges now because we are bringing a lot more science to Noni’s training, where she has been doing very traditional training.

“The new science of conditioning and boxing training will definitely help her.

“So she is going to be fitter and fight stronger than she ever has.”