‘Boxing Games’ was created by George Khosi and myself in his boxing gym in Hillbrow, down-town Johannesburg, and is still used as part of his training sessions today. Currently, I am revisiting this practice with George for my practice research Ph.D. The work was made over 3 weeks whilst I was an artist in residence for the kin:be:jozi residency project. Upon walking back from an outing, we, the other resident artists and I came upon George’s boxing gym. We walked in and I struck up a conversation with George. I explained who I was, the performance work that I did, and the residency I was a part of and asked if I could join the gym and begin training with the possible intention for this training to lead to some kind of performance. George and I agreed on the terms of working together and my 3-week boxing training experience commenced.
Boxing Games emerged from the training sessions, where we took this specific training into the ring and, together, changed the rules of boxing. This was a different kind of game where we played with the rules of boxing where it became less about winning and domination and more about playing to keep on playing as opposed to playing to win. Players could shout out the rules as they boxed, and in this way, it became quite a chaotic kind of playfighting with lots of jostling, swopping of sparring partners, laughing, rolling around, screaming up into the sky, and falling down dead in the ring.
The Boxing Game was performed twice in 2007. First, it was performed one evening at the gym and the second performance was on top of a rooftop as part of my Master's final exhibition. Whilst the first performance was made for the experience of the performers, the second was for the performers and a determined audience who watched from 19 floors above us. At the gym, players could tap in and tap out of the game and soon this rule was extended as an invitation for audience members who could don boxing gloves, step into the ring, ‘tap in’ and play the game. Since that first day I walked into George’s gym, we have remained close and have worked on several other projects together over the course of these 14 years.