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Packing the Punches – Hillbrow S.A.

Hillbrow is arguably Joburgs most notorious suburb.  Famous for all the wrong reasons.  But behind a parking lot, sandwiched between high rise apartments, a place of hope can be found.  This is the location of George Khosi’s Hillbrow Boxing Club which was once a petrol station but has subsequently been converted to accommodate a boxing ring outside and a gym with weights and punching bags on the inside.

George, a former professional fighter, opened the place some years ago to give something back to the community in Hillbrow, especially the kids.  By mid-afternoon the gym starts to come alive with activity.  Young and old begin stepping through the creaky entrance door and taking up positions at the weight lifting equipment or ageing exercise bikes.   George helps some youngsters strap up their hands in preparation for a session with the punching bags.  Funds and proper gear are in short supply and so some kids are forced to wear old, oversized and worn out gloves as they pound on the heavy bags in unison.  The infamous Ponte building looms large through the windows of the gym as the kids are taken through the correct techniques of jabbing, hooking and upper cutting.
George’s gym is more than a place where kids come to exercise and hit a bag. It is a place which teaches them discipline and gives them a sense of self-worth; vital tools which are needed in order to survive on the rugged streets of Hillbrow.