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Boxing Games

2007 & 2019-22

Boxing Games (2007) is a co-created performance/game by ex-S.A boxing champ and coach George Khosi and myself in his gym (George Khosi's Hillbrow Boxing Club) in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, still used as part of his training today. It was commissioned by kin:be:jozi public art residency and revisited for my Ph.D. practice-research (2018-22). The original team of Steffi Weismann, Joao Paulo Djoca Dapiedade, and George's cousin Mbesta Reeds, helped rewrite a new decolonial polyvocal story. George, with 366 wins and four losses, boxed professionally from 1986-1994, but an armed robbery in 1997 ended his career. Recovering in 1999, he fulfilled his dream of opening a gym with Rhema Church's help in Hillbrow, producing champs like Rita Mrwebi, whom he trained since she was nine. His gym is a safe haven for children and young people in a dangerous area, offering a space for physical fitness and play.

When we walked into George's ring that first day in June 2007, I felt safe. I was drawn to working with George and interested in the relationship between risk and play, hoping to learn how to be safe and play in an unsafe area like Hillbrow. After discussing how we would work together, we got to work. Inspired by George's collective training sessions, Boxing Games changed the rules of boxing from dominating to adding different rules to continue the play. The game was played on the night of the performance, and audience members could play too, donning boxing gloves. The work was also performed/played on a rooftop opposite the Intermission gallery.

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