By Elson Mankhomwa:
The Roy Jones Jr and Jodi Solomon Boxing Gym, at Craig Hall Park, in Sandton City, South Africa, is adorned by a cluster of illustrious young boxers oozing with immense talent and desire.
That should not come as a surprise because Roy Jones Jr, by virtue of his staggering stature in pugilism, is already a big attraction in the boxing world and the youth cannot be blamed for dreaming so big.
One of the flamboyant and ambitious young fighters in that gym is Dennis Mwale, 24, from Malawi. He fights at lightweight.
His being found in that prestigious gym is somehow intriguing and yet, by any fair and credible means, Dennis, more than anybody else, deserves to be in there.
Dennis’ father comes from Lilongwe while his mother is originally from Embangweni but the family settled in Edingeni, Mzimba where they also own a farm.
Always at heart independent minded, Dennis travelled to South in 2011 to look for employment and got a job, in Centurion town, in Pretoria where he worked as a domestic gardener.
Before long, Dennis developed a new interest that grew into a passion: watching boxing on TV.
In the process he discovered a very successful boxer whom he greatly admired. Dennis was mesmerized especially to learn that the fighter was coming from his homeland, Malawi, but fighting from South Africa, a light-heavyweight maestro called Isaac ‘Golden Boy’ Chilemba.
That got Dennis fired up with ambition. He felt that if Malawi could produce such a brilliant boxer he himself could also make it.
Dennis asked his boss if he could permit him to join boxing. The employer obliged and even advised him to look around for a boxing gym. He found one, at Four Ways in South Africa’s ‘City of Gold’ and before long, he had relocated to Top Box Boxing Gym owned by boxing manager, Stephen Castle.
More importantly and also to his excitement, he discovered that his boxing idol and model, Chilemba, had become a stable mate in the same gym.
And, finally, here he was, landing an eye-catching contract with the Roy Jones Jr. and Jodi Solomon Boxing Gym outfit in Pretoria.
Initially, Dennis had to work hard through the unpaid ranks where he won several local titles and medals before winding up with an inspiring amateur record of 15 wins and 1 loss in his 16 outings.
It was that remarkable amateur record in the very competitive South African boxing arena that drew the attention from the boxing community, both within and out of South Africa.
Turning professional he has chalked up an impressive 9 – 0 (4 KOs) record in quick time and thereby attracting the eyes of one of the world’s greatest ever boxers, Roy Jones Jr.
The former undisputed world light-heavy weight champion who is also one of the only two light-heavyweight boxers ever (the other is his American compatriot Michael Spinks) to win the heavyweight title, Jones Jr. is now the chief second in the corner of Mwale.
When he travelled to Europe for the first time ever in December 2019, to fight against Russian, Ashley Ashrov, whom he defeated in three rounds of the scheduled six rounder in Greece, Jones Jr. was the main tactical man for the young Malawian boxer.
Working with Jones Jr. was, and indeed is, a particularly wonderful and very satisfying experience for Dennis who feels all buoyed up with morale in abundance.
And Dennis looks forward to, in his own words, ‘fight the big guys in the United States of America.’
Coming from a family of 10 where he is a fourth born child Dennis, who is single, feels that now the time has come to realise his full potential and show the world that Malawi is, in sports, somewhere up there.
‘The best is yet to come,’ he enthused.
When he is relaxing from training and working in the gym, Dennis likes to watch football with friends or ‘play some boring games with the children of my friends’.
He is not a fan of drinking or smoking but he likes good food such as beef goulash or chicken curry and brown rice.
The next big thing to watch out for in boxing is a boxer from Malawi. His mentor is no man less than the inimitable Roy Jones Jr., the former undisputed light-heavyweight champion of the world.
And the name of that boxer is Dennis Mwale, of Edingeni.