LEGENDARY trainer, Norman Hlabane, says he’s ecstatic yet humbled by the acknowledgement of his work and contribution to the local boxing industry.

Hlabane was honoured by boxing manufacturing equipment company, Damascus Sport, for his contribution to the development of the sport.

The historic event took place at his gym, the CWJ Boxing Club in Jabavu, Soweto, on Thursday.

A small hall with a ring and a few punching bags was filled to the rafters, while members of the local boxing fraternity and Hlabane’s former fighters talked fondly of the great trainer.

The veteran mentor has guided great fighters such as Dingaan “The Rose of Soweto” Thobela, Lehlohonolo “Hands of Stone” Ledwaba and Nika Khumalo, to international stardom.

Hlabane said he was happy to be recognised while still alive.

“I’m proud of my achievements. I’m happy for my work to be acknowledged. I’m also grateful that Damascus has upgraded my gym. That will enable me to produce more champions,” he said.

“What they have done is unbelievable, unlike heaping a person with all the honours when they’re gone.

“I’m still alive and can see what they have done for me. That’s important.”

This was the second time the dedicated trainer, who played the father figure role to many local boxers, was honoured.

Last year, he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the then Gauteng Department of Sports MEC, Faith Mazibuko.

Sherwin Enoch from Damascus Sports said: “We want to acknowledge him for his efforts and contribution to boxing. We also want to do it while he can appreciate it. Acknowledging him is a celebration of his life.”His contribution to South African boxing is unmeasurable and we want him to continue doing what he does best, producing the champions,” said Enoch.

Thobela also praised his former mentor, saying:and felt great to share a smile with Bra Nox as he called him. “It’s important to celebrate our legends while they’re still alive.” Thobela won the WBA and the WBU titles under Hlabane’s guidance.