While some might take up boxing because of their passion for the sport or the adrenaline rush it gives, Matshidiso ‘Scorpion Queen’ Mokebisi said becoming a boxer saved her from a life of gangsterism and substance abuse.
“When I was younger, I used to have unexplainable anger issues which led me to join a gang and to smoke weed. When I ventured into boxing, the sport helped me to channel those energies in the right direction,’’ she said.
Mokebisi (30), who originates from the Free State, said boxing is a tough sport that teaches mental and physical endurance.
However, she said after 16 years in the sport, she is finding it even harder for women to progress.
“Most tournaments are for men and as women, we struggle to be booked for matches. It is so bad that in recent years, I’ve only taken part in one match a year.”
Mokebisi is the current holder of the South African Junior Featherweight, World Boxing Federation International Junior Featherweight and the African Boxing Union SADC Featherweight titles.
She said that she lives in hope that every time she is in the gym and the ring, she is working towards changing the perceptions of women’s boxing.
Mokebisi has about six years left as a professional boxer but she does not plan on retiring completely from the sport.
“I want to go into promoting boxing as a way of helping up-and-coming women boxers so that they don’t have to struggle as I have,” she said, adding that promoters play a vital role in developing gender equality in the sport.
“The onus is on the promoters; when they host boxing tournaments, they must include women. There should be an equal number of matches for men and women.”
With South Africa celebrating Women’s Month, Mokebisi said that as a woman, boxing has helped her to showcase her talent and uniqueness.
“Women should know that they are special and unique in every way. We can succeed at anything we need to do. To women in boxing, I say don’t give up. Together we can grow the number of female boxers in South Africa.”