Boxing Cleverby Setumo Mohlomi / 18.06.2013
The Armoury is a boxing gym which shares a complex with a gallery and one of those best kept secret bars you would be loath to order a Black Label at. Forget the Rocky Balboa like gym smells of sweat and blood and the men emitting them. This is a clean and gender friendly place, and the Upstart event they hosted last Saturday goes a long way in proving them as a champion of women’s rights.
The event took place in aid of the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children (SBCWC), which like so many other NGOs struggles to stay afloat for the lack of funding. It is a little ironic that a centre which has seen countless battered and abused women and children walk in and out of its doors would be the beneficiary of a physical and aural punch up.
But the ‘boxing before the (music) show was kind of the main politicisation of the event’ explains the tall, gangly Yusif, who is the brains behind the event. He had ‘both female and male boxers take part… fighting for the needs of others’. By ‘others’ he of course means the thousands of women who fall victim to abuse, overwhelmingly at the hands of male spouses and other members of their families.
The twenty something year-old bumped into the Fokofpolisiekar drummer Jacobus “Snakehead” Venter at the gym and after meeting the rest of the band mates managed to sell them his idea. Like the Dollfins and the other acts that night, Yusif roped everyone in himself and beat a philanthropic performance from everyone. Well, not quite. ‘They all played for free’ he says,‘the boxers too. They all fought for free and were so energetic and enthusiastic about doing so.’
There was no lack of energy in the boxing ring come stage when Fokofpolisiekar did their rounds. The band whirled through the hits they are famous for, including the somewhat vainly named Fokofpolisiekar in a non-stop set. By the time their performance reached the half-way mark the drummer Jacobus “Snakehead” Venter’s dripping sweat threatened to drown the ring and lead vocalist Francois van Coke looked like he was struggling with a dislocated thumb from his antics. But it turned out to be ‘just a small scratch’ he said after the show.
In an age where it is in trend to be associated with supporting some or other cause, but only from the safety of one’s armchair, it is refreshing to see a relatively young person stand up and take action. There is no real measure for how far the funds raised will go towards keeping the SBCWC open. But then, there is no real measure of how many young spectators were inspired by the Upstart gig to start something, anything.
*All images © Setumo Mohlomi