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Aug 11th
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Home Boxing Courage Tshabalala Interview
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Courage Tshabalala Interview Lead Writer Chris Strait spoke with former heavyweight contender Courage Tshabalala, whose journey as a fighter took him from South Africa to headlining TV cards in the USA.  For the last decade and a half, he has been training his own fighters, after learning from many of the great trainers.

CS: Where did you grow up, and what led you into boxing?

Courage Tshabalala: I am from Johannesburg, and I was not a kid who could naturally fight, so I got picked on.  I wanted to learn to fight, and many of my cousins fought, so I went into boxing.  (His cousin Ginger Tshabalala was a world ranked light heavyweight, until he was murdered in 1995).

CS: Many fighters come to the USA from South Africa, and they keep going back and forth, like Corrie Sanders, Isaac Hlatswayo, Thomas Oosthuizen, etc.  but you are one of the few who stayed, and the whole second half of your career was here.  Why was that?

Courage Tshabalala: Well, I was in Lou Duva's camp, and there were so many great fighters.. I was working with Ray Mercer, Roy Jones, Al Cole, it just made sense to stay here.. plus every time I would go home, I would gain 20 lbs (laughs).  Many of the African fighters that come here are very strong, but their technique and skill level is just not the same.  There are exceptions like Azumah Nelson, Brian Mitchell, but mostly it is much better here.

CS: Was that camp a good place for your training career to start as well? Courage Tshabalala: Being with Duva got me around great trainers: Tommy Brooks, Roger Bloodworth, Ronnie Shields, and I started training fighters in Duva's camp.  He had a lot of kids coming out of the 2000 games: Dante Craig, Demetrius Hopkins, Ishe Smith, etc.

CS: Do you like to take a fighter from the very beginning, or mid-career?

Courage Tshabalala: I like to start with them from the beginning, ground up.  Some may say that's a lot more work, but when they come to you from elsewhere, they often come with a lot of bad habits.  Many fighters, and trainers too,  see it on TV, and think they can just do it right away... and they get bad habits that you have to correct.

CS: And now you're based out of Los Angeles?

Courage Tshabalala: Yes, in Chatsworth, but I train fighters at Tony Jeffries gym in Santa Monica.

CS: You've been working with Johnny Quigley, a very skilled fighter... what have you been working on with him the most?

Courage Tshabalala: He has a style that reminds me of Pernell Whittaker, and we are working on him being busy in the pocket.

CS: Yes, Pernell was masterful there, not getting hit at all while right in front of you.
Courage Tshabalala: Exactly, and I didn't get to build him from the ground up, so we have to get to know each other, but thus far, all I have seen from him is positive.. but we're still building.

CS: Is that your training philosophy, to work with a fighter's natural strengths?

Courage Tshabalala: Of course.  There are also basics, that everyone has to have.. that's what I mean by correcting bad habits... many young fighters punch and stand there.  They don't move afterwards.  Sometimes you also have to make sure they remember to raise their arms the closer they get to a fighter, things like that.

CS: Good luck on Thursday at Florentine Gardens, I know Johnny's next fight is there. I appreciate you taking the time.       

Courage Tshabalala: No problem, and I heard your show... the podcast, and I liked it... it was good.

CS: Oh, the Punch Line Boxing podcast? (on itunes, search and subscribe, or

Courage Tshabalala: Yes.

CS: Thanks.  Glad it's making its way around.

Chris Strait

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