Stay Away From Booze And Bad Friends, Young Man

Published 11 years ago
Stay Away From Booze  And Bad Friends, Young Man

His trainer claims he possesses the extraordinary hand speed reminiscent of the legendary Sugar Ray Leonard. His detractors warn that South Africa’s Tommy Oosthuizen’s love of fast food, women, clubs and bars could cause irreparable damage to a career destined for greatness.

They hope the riot act, read by his promoter Rodney Berman will force Oosthuizen, defending super-middleweight champion of the International Boxing Organization (IBO), to abandon what critics claim is an ill-disciplined lifestyle.

Berman admitted to berating Oosthuizen for his failure to make the initial super-middleweight limit on the Friday before the fight against the veteran Colombian slugger Fulgencio Zuniga, on November 10.


“Exposed as a party animal” and “preference for pubs and clubs outweighs his yearning for the gym” were some of the phrases used as boxing writers challenged Oosthuizen’s struggle to reach the super-middleweight limit of 76.36 kilograms.

Zuniga also warned Oosthuizen, after the 24-year-old South African needed extra time to shed 800g to make the weight.

“You can be the best boxer but if you don’t take your career seriously, then you will have serious problems. He has got to be very careful about such things if he wants to mix it with the big boys out there,” says Zuniga.

Berman was equally blunt in his assessment: “I don’t want another Johnny du Plooy or Dingaan Thobela. Tommy is young and impressionable. I read him the riot act about his weight problems. I have seen so many boxing careers that were ruined because of a lack of dedication”.


“Potentially, I see Tommy in the super-middleweight section for another three years. After three years, he might have to move up to the light-middleweight category, as he is a tall fighter at six feet four inches. He can use the next three years to leave a legacy.”

Harold Volbrecht, Oosthuizen’s trainer, the former South African welterweight champion who fought 54 professional bouts, dismissed criticism about Oosthuizen’s love for pubs as mere media hype. He said the wrong friends and a lack of respect for money contributed to his weight problems.

“He doesn’t respect money enough.”

Oosthuizen admitted that the wrong lifestyle exacerbated his weight problems.


“Sometimes you take four cool drinks instead of two and you start loving barbeques. Currently, I’m seeing a sport psychologist, Jannie de Wet. It’s about the right focus and peaking at the right moment. He also helps me to deal with women and things like that and to find the right balance between Tommy the man and Tommy the sports person.”

Probed about his alleged love of the bars, Oosthuizen said he’s definitely no pub loafer, although he might have a drink.

“Yes, I have socialized, but it was not outrageous,” he added.

“The fight against Zuniga was a turning point. I will never have trouble with the weight limit again.


“I felt I could have stopped Zuniga in his tracks. But because I had to make the extra effort to shed weight, it drained and weakened me. Next time, I will ensure that I am within the limits three to four weeks before a fight.”

Oosthuizen’s father, Charles, was a brilliant boxer, according to Pierre Coetzer, a former heavy-weight champion of South Africa. Charles Oosthuizen, the former South African middleweight champion, fought 35 professional bouts between 1984 and 1991.

“My father taught me to stay humble and to train harder than my greatest challengers in order to outperform them in the ring. It’s true to say that boxing is in my blood. That’s why I ventured into the ring for the first time at the age of six,” says Oosthuizen.

Berman considers Oosthuizen a gifted south paw and arguably the Ernie Els of South African boxing.


His hand speed is extraordinary, he says, and he has a strong jaw that can withstand severe punishment.

Volbrecht said Oosthuizen’s hand speed is the equal to that of a former welterweight legend, Sugar Ray Leonard.

Oosthuizen, undefeated in 22 bouts, is ranked fourth on The Ring Magazine’s list of super-middleweight fighters in the world.

Du Plooy, one of South Africa’s finest and most charismatic heavyweight champions of the past thirty years, acknowledges Oosthuizen’s abilities but has a stern warning about the pitfalls.


“Tommy is extremely talented and a very good counter-puncher, like his trainer, Harold Volbrecht, was. My advice to Tommy is: stay away from booze, from wrong friends and train hard.”

“People claimed that alcohol and cocaine caused my downfall as a boxing champion. That’s not the truth. I did not fulfill my potential because I was lazy and did not train enough. I doubt if I did 500 kilometers of road work during my entire career.”

“After the completion of my boxing career, I snorted my way through more than a million rand of cocaine. With the help of God and my committed wife, I started a successful business career. And consequently, I have trained four or five world-champion fighters, so my life is on track. I have been clean from cocaine for 12 to 13 years. I have earned the T-shirt and have paid my school fees.”

“To me, Brian Mitchell is the type of role model that Tommy should attempt to emulate. I don’t know if he won a world title as an amateur but look what he achieved as a professional fighter thanks to his total dedication.”

If Oosthuizen won’t heed Du Plooy’s advice, his corner might remind him of how a love for fast food temporarily ruined Roberto Durán’s reputation.

Durán, considered one of the greatest lightweight boxers of all time, retired at the end of the eighth round in his world welterweight fight against Sugar Ray Leonard in 1980 by using the dreaded words no mas (Spanish for ‘no more’).

The Panamanian, whose bingeing and fasting had taken its toll and had him ill-prepared for the bout as he battled to reach the weight limit, looked clumsy while Leonard danced around and taunted him.

Durán was unfit for the contest and retired rather than face the inevitable humiliation at the hands of Leonard in the later rounds, as his stamina faded, claimed the publication Lords of the ring, The greatest fighters since 1950.

Volbrecht said HBO—an American premium cable television network, which reaches around 30 million subscribers in the States and broadcasts in at least 151 countries worldwide—is already on board for a possible unification bout in the super-middleweight division involving Oosthuizen that was hosted by the States in March.

“If your fights are broadcasted on HBO with its massive appeal you have arrived,” he says.

Volbrecht hinted to the fact that Oosthuizen might fight against Adonis Stevenson as an elimination-bout for a showdown with Carl Froch, the super-middleweight champion of the International Boxing Federation (IBF).

Stevenson, Froch and Mikkel Kessler—the super-middleweight champion of the World Boxing Association (WBA)—are marque-names in a division that has attracted the attention of WBO, while super-middleweight fever is spreading amongst adorning fans.

It presents Oosthuizen with opportunities to forge a reputation as one of South Africa’s finest-ever super-middleweight fighters, provided he contemplates the history lesson of the No Mas-fight and takes to heart the timely and fatherly advice from Du Plooy and Berman.