Mr Eric Risimati Baloyi (green blazer) seated next to President Cyril Ramaphosa during the photoshoot of the National Orders awards. Photo Supplied.
Date: 12 May 2018 By: Mbulaheni Ridovhona
Eric Risimati Baloyi, South Africa’s boxing training legend who hails from Malamulele, received the Order of Ikhamanga (silver) from president Cyril Ramaphosa at the end of April. Baloyi formed part of the select group of people on whom National Orders were bestowed at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guesthouse in Tshwane.
The National Orders are the highest awards that South Africa bestows on citizens and members of the international community who have contributed meaningfully towards making the country a free, democratic and successful nation, united in its diversity.
The 76-year-old Baloyi was honoured for his contribution to youth development through training young boxers who have gone on to make South Africa proud in global competitions. He has produced professional boxers such as Cassius Baloyi, Isaac Hlatshwayo and Jeffrey Mathebula. The Order of Ikhamanga recognises South African citizens who have excelled in the fields of arts‚ culture‚ literature‚ music‚ journalism and sport.
Baloyi was euphoric when his name was called out to be honoured by the President and he said it was like he was in dreamland. “I felt like someone has just woken me from a dream. I’m so proud to have received this accolade. I would like to thank Benson Ntlemo who wrote to the presidency for me to be honoured and my wife and children for their support in my career. I’m grateful for my wife, because at some point I wanted to give up, but she kept encouraging me to continue with boxing development in the Malamulele area,” said Baloyi, who is the father of retired boxing champion Cassius Baloyi.
Eric Baloyi began his boxing training and promoting career in 1979, after being influenced by the great boxer, Cassius Clay, better known as Muhammad Ali. He also named his son after this famous boxer.
His daughter, Vulani Baloyi, described him as a humble and loving father who took care of his children. “My dad loves people and he likes giving to the poor. He feels fulfilled when he has done something for other people. His love for boxing is unbelievable,” she said.
Local doctor and community leader Dr Isaiah Ndhambi said that the Malamulele boxing gym must be named after Mr Eric Baloyi as part of honouring his contribution to boxing and community development.
The 22-year-old Mbulaheni (Gary) Ridovhona has been passionate about journalism to the extent that he would buy himself a copy of weekly Univen students' newsletter, Our Voice. After reading, he would write stories about his rural village, Mamvuka, and submit them to the very newsletter for publication. His deep-rooted love for words and writing saw him register for a Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies at the University of Venda, and joined the Limpopo Mirror team in February 2016 as a journalism intern.