Tommy Oosthuizen

“Hulle word ouer; ek word sterker, (They get older; I get stronger)” says 24-year-old IBO world supermiddleweight champion Thomas Oosthuizen. He may respect the boxers now dominating his division, but he can’t see any of them standing up to him in two years’ time.

Tommy Gun, as he is known to his fans, remains undefeated after 20 professional bouts against opponents from nine countries and is currently ranked fourth in the world by the authoritative Ring Magazine.

At 1.93m, Oosthuizen may have the wiry frame of a high jumper, but his tally of 13 knockout victories tells a different story. Ferocious honing of his natural abilities has given the new fighting pride of Boksburg dynamite in both fists and balletic movement that leaves even the most accomplished opponents lunging at shadows.

Oosthuizen’s long-time trainer and pugilistic mentor, Harold Volbrecht, has modelled his charge’s game plan on bygone champions Thomas Hearns and Bob Foster. Pundits will have no trouble spotting the Hearns-like footwork and piercing jab, and Foster’s aggressive body-punching is also clear to the trained eye.

On his debut on American soil last November, Oosthuizen also seems to have passed the test of courage that every fighter must. Over 12 toe-to- toe rounds with Aaron Pryor Jr, the tourist battled his way to a unanimous win on points. “We bashed each other up pretty good,” recalls the handsome southpaw, “but it was definitely my sweetest victory so far.”

Now at that crux of his career, when so many local fighters implode, Oosthuizen shows no signs of following suit. He trains for four hours a day, every day but Sunday. And, at the urging of the wise Volbrecht, Oosthuizen has even taken up golf to learn the patience he needs in the ring.

By most accounts the blond bomber, whom schoolmates dubbed Superstar, is living up to his billing.

Ian Macleod