From barmitzvah boy to boxing pro

Five years ago, 12-year-old Joshua Feldman walked into his first training session at Blood Sweat and Tears (BS&T) boxing gym in Sea Point.

At that time, nobody could have predicted that by 17 he would be representing his country at the upcoming African Union Sport Council (AUSC) Region 5 Games.

“I had previously been a very keen soccer player, but I had bad growing pains in my knees, so running was a challenge. My dad suggested I try boxing as a substitute,” says Feldman. He quickly realised that he had what it takes to be a fighter. “I began watching an excessive amount of boxing and noticed it was constantly on my mind. That’s when I knew it was more than just a hobby for me.”

This realisation meant that Joshua had to put everything he had into the sport. “I’m always in the gym training. But when I have a fight coming up, the intensity and volume of training goes up a notch. In preparation for my upcoming fight next month, I’m running three to four times a week and boxing at least five or six days a week.”

That said, Feldman maintains that all the training in the world means nothing without a good coach. “Having a committed coach is an essential part of competing in an extreme sport like boxing. There is only so much you can teach yourself before you get badly hurt, so having someone who is experienced and can guide you is a huge advantage.”

“My coach, Felix Venganayi, has taught me the importance of being consistent and dedicated. I’ve realised that without those two traits you cannot reach the next level.”

This unwavering dedication has proven vital in getting Joshua to where he is today, especially at times when his ability has been underestimated based on his background. “I think people sometimes underestimate the hunger and aggression I have in the ring, due to the privileged circumstances I have grown up in. It doesn’t bother me though because I know I have the fighter mentality in my blood.”

When asked what advice he has for other up-and-coming boxers in the community, Feldman says, “Follow your heart and don’t allow external influences to dictate the decisions you make with regards to boxing, as a lot of people may think they know what is right for you. I would also advise you to take everything you learn in the ring to heart, as those teachings can be applied to all aspects of life.”

Joshua will be competing in the upcoming AUSC Region 5 Youth Games in Maseru, Lesotho, in December 2021. BS&T Boxing Gym, based in Sea Point, is run by professional boxers, and accepts adults and children from six years.

• Published in the PDF edition of the December 2021/January 2022 issue – Click here to get it.

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