OVER the years, boxing has proven to be able to change lives for the better and help young men to turn away from crime.
A handful of young inmates who have been transformed through the sport to become better members of the society bear witness to that.
After being released from prison they went on to make a name for themselves on the local boxing scene.
The latest ex-convict to be absorbed by the local boxing professional system is Abdul-Aziz “Arabian Knights” Kunert.
The unbeaten Kunert, who hails from Brooklyn on the Cape Flats, fell in love with the sport while serving time at Drankenstein Correctional Centre.
After being found guilty of murder, he was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment.
That was in 2014. Five years of his sentence was suspended.
The talented featherweight fighter said being part of boxing in prison helped him to make proper decisions in life.
“Boxing changed my life when I was in prison,” said Kunert.
“It made me think, see and feel better and view the outside world differently. I’m truly grateful on how my life has turned out and wish that everyone who is struggling in different situations can believe (like I did) and make that change.”
Since the skilful prospect left prison he has dedicated his time and energy on improving his ring craft.
He is expected to fight for the national featherweight crown with the equally talented Thembani Mbangatha.
“I have met people across different age groups who said they are inspired by my story,” he said.
“Others are still sending me messages and say they feel uplifted on how I have changed my life.”
However, there are other fighters who changed their lives for better through boxing and went on to become champions such as Dumisani Maka, Sabelo Jubatha, Lindile Tshemese and Bonakele Bikitsha.
One of the pioneers of the inmates rehabilitation programme is Luyanda Kana, who started the initiative in 1991 as a crime prevention campaign to help those who are at risk of being drawn into crime and gang activity.
“The programme has changed people’s lives and contributed to the development of the sport,” said Kana.
But according to Kana the programme has been halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.