Chaka Moekoa: Boxing’s unsung hero

NTHAKO MAJORO

The late Tšosane Boxing Club coach Chaka Moekoa, who died a fortnight ago aged 48, will be late to rest at Ha Tšosane, Maseru, this Saturday. Moekoa was shot dead at night outside his home in the same village on February 9 by unknown assailants, just after he returned from training. His death shocked not only the local boxing fraternity and his Ha Tšosane neighbours but the entire sporting nation.

He will be remembered for his massive contribution to the development of the sports in Lesotho over the years he has served local boxing. A former boxer himself, Moekoa spent his entire life producing boxers after he hung up his boxing gloves. Moekoa produced some of this country’s best boxing gems such the late Mosolesa ‘Fire’ Tsie, Sephula Letuka, Sebusiso Keketsi, Tello Moejane, Moses Kopo and Arena Pakela, amongst others.

Keketsi, who is now Lesotho’s highly qualified boxing coach, says he knew Moekoa since his teenage years while the mentor was still a competitive boxer. “I knew him even before I could join the club (Tšosane Boxing Club), as a very young boy,” says Keketsi. “Maybe that’s because we were staying very close to each other, with just a fence between our homes.”

When Moekoa was still boxing competitively, Keketsi recalls, he had not even dreamt of becoming a boxer himself. “We were still young when he was a boxer and I joined the sport very late when he retired to become a coach, that is when I joined Tšosane Boxing Club and he started a career in coaching. There were other coaches at the club but his presence was felt whenever he was around.” That was until 1996 when Keketsi left Tšosane Boxing Club to join Best Boxers Club (BBC).

“But we still met regularly as we were neighbours, and we later worked together beginning 2007/08 when I also ventured into coaching. We worked together to prepare the team that was going to represent Lesotho at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, even though we ended up not making a show at the games as coaches because of intense internal politics.”

Keketsi further says: “But we continued to work together even though we were coaching different clubs.” Moekoa and Keketsi’s relationship improved when the latter became a national boxing coach, the main reason being the fact that some of the boxers who made it to the national were mentored by Moekoa at club level.

“Although I was in charge as national coach you would find that most of the boxers in the national team were from his club, and since there wasn’t enough time for those boxers to prepare with the national team it became very easy for me as we normally agreed on training programmes for his boxers to follow.” Moekoa and Keketsi also usually met at an administrative level of the Tšosane Boxing Club since it is a community club.

“Apart from that, we used to meet at an administration level of the Tšosane Boxing Club since it is a community club, and as the coach he was also the back-bone of the club. He was currently the one who gave guidance in administration in general, as well as a guidance of how to work when it was time for boxing elections.”

Incidentally, Moekoa became one of the delegation that negotiated lobola for Keketsi in 2011. “He’s not from my family but the relationship we had with him was amazing, so much that when I decided to get married in 2011, he was the only who came from outside (Keketsi’s family) to form part of the delegation who negotiated my lobola.”

Keketsi further said: “Even his wife was staying with us before he could marry her, as if she was our family member.” Moekoa was not the kind of person to easily convince. Keketsi says one needed to prove beyond doubt, and with facts, whatever was argued. “Coming to his life in general, he was very stubborn. He couldn’t just believe what you were telling him until you convinced him with facts. When you said something was white, he would challenge you to prove to him that it was indeed white and not black.”

Keketsi says Moekoa’s character, however, worked for him in several scenarios. Keketsi further said: “So the situation was very tense when we left the club (Tšosane Boxing Club) as there wasn’t any formal negotiations (between BBC and their former club) but because of his character of being stubborn he continued producing better boxers than those who left and my club (BBC) again stolen his boxers.”

Keketsi said still, Moekoa could not give up boxing. “But still he died as a boxing coach. He didn’t give up; he didn’t be demotivated but continued to mentor upcoming boxers. Currently some of his boxers such like Thabo Molefe competed at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and was knocked out in the quarter-finals, just step away from winning a medal. We also have Arena Pakela who in 2019 made his first appearance at the Zone 4 championship with the senior team and was the only local boxer who came home with a gold medal from the games.”

Keketsi, however, laments that the boxing fraternity as a whole as well as entire country have never recognized Moekoa for the efforts he made for the development of boxing in Lesotho. Phello Sofe, one of Lesotho’s boxing administrators remembers Moekoa as always good in boxing. “He was a long-standing boxing coach and an experienced mentor,” said Sofe. “He was always good even when he was still a competitive boxer.”

Sofe reiterates that Moekoa did a good job as a boxer and as a coach. He says Moekoa was the kind of person who would go to extremes when he wanted something to happen, “he would do anything to achieve it.” “He was that kind of a person, and his boxers respected him very much for that.” Sofe adds that: “When he wanted a certain boxer to qualify for an international competition he would anything to help him achieve that.”

Moekoa’s death, Sofe says, is a great loss for boxing in the country. “The death of someone like Chaka Moekoa is a great loss for boxing and I don’t believe we would find someone like him.” For his part, President of the Lesotho Boxing Association (LeBA), Katiso Tšenoli, says he first knew Moekoa when he was a competitive boxer. “I began to know him while I was still a boxer many years ago, and he was already a coach of Tšosane Boxing Club,”said Tšenoli.

“But I began to know him in person in 2006 for he was our coach (national boxing coach) during the Melbourne Commonwealth Games and he was a good coach.” Moekoa came home with a silver medal from the Melbourne Commonwealth Games, won by Moses Kopo. Tšenoli continues that Moekoa was also a very good boxing coach and, the reason he managed to produce good boxers at Tšosane Boxing Club over the years.

Former LeBA president, Dr Makhetha Mosotho, remembers the late coach for his ability to nurture raw talent. “I found Chaka Moekoa already in boxing (when he joined the sport) and he was already an experienced coach,” said Mosotho. “He was a very good mentor and was pursuant. But what I liked most about him was to stand for the truth in many things.” Mosotho further said: “Apart from that, he was one of the coaches who produced best boxers in this country, and who most of them became the champions.” Moekoa leaves behind his wife ’Mamohapi and two children, Mohapi and Makhala.

 

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