Bellville boxer Daniel Pontack will use this weekend’s clash against Siphe Xhati as another stepping stone towards his dream of one day competing for a world title fight.
Pontack and Xhati are on the undercard of the SA heavyweight title clash between Ruann Visser and Tian Fick which will take place at Camps Bay High School on Monday December 16.
Training out of Brice Boxing Academy in Ottery, the 26-year-old flyweight says he is in the best condition of his life and a good showing at this fight will boost his competitive rankings in the division. He has won two professional fights so far.
Considering that he only started boxing five years ago, Pontack has made quite an impact in the sport, particularly at amateur level.
However, the road was far from easy for the Cape Canary, as he is known in boxing circles. He says he only got into boxing because of his troublesome teenage years, which saw him in and out of jail before he even turned 17.
“I was a problem teenager and didn’t have focus or a sense of direction and when I walked inside the boxing gym, which I was referred to by my friend, my whole life changed.
“I was always involved in fights which led me to be arrested a lot but I found a comfort zone in the ring.
“It was only then that I was able to find myself and managed to get an education and grow from being a teenager to being a man.”
Pontack suffered 20 defeats at amateur level and while many boxers would have given up at that stage, Pontack believed he would bounce back. In the two years before he turned professional, he didn’t suffer any defeats.
“My coach always believed in me but there was a time when told me he would understand if I wanted to quit the sport but there was always that drive in me that when I commit to something, I should be able to reach the highest point.
“I always challenge myself to go a step further, with each achievement I always look at how I can be better.
“I believe I was built for this sport, that is why I kept going back to the gym even when I was in that period where I was getting the hiding of my life in the ring.”
Not only is Pontack focused on building his own boxing career, he wants to build world champions through his Off the Ropes Boxing Gym.
“I still have a fairly new professional career but this sport has changed my life and I want to transfer the knowledge I have to the next generation.
“It was through this sport that I got my life back on track and that is something I want to build as well for others.
“In the long run I believe we will have the best amateur boxing academy in Southern Africa because we have a passion for teaching. We would love to teach children to box, not only for competition but for self esteem as well.”
Pontack is surrounded by the professionals under the mentorship of Emile Brice but still gives a lot of credit to his amateur coach, Johannes Salie.
“He is actually the reason I’m into boxing. He is a very good coach and I learnt a lot from him. Working with Emile has also put me on a higher level because I work with lots of professionals who are in his stable.
“Those are the kind of people you need in your corner if you want to be great, one cannot do this alone and I have seen lots of improvements from my boxing since I turned pro and moved to his gym.”
Pontack’s upcoming fight against Xhati will put him on the map because of the magnitude of the main fight.
“The fight night is the big one, it’s nice to fight in such tournaments because that is where you have lots of eyes on you.
“That is the stage where as boxer you really want to showcase what you can offer in the ring.”
Pontack, like any boxer, has aspirations of one day being a world champion, but says he doesn’t want to get ahead of himself and wants to take it one fight at a time.