Former three-time boxing world champion and human rights lawyer, Lovemore N’dou, wants to give back.
He’s feeling pretty relaxed and sitting on a bench at North Bondi Beach Surf Lifesaving Club when we catch up to talk about his plans for a new political party and the work he does raising funds for the charity Missionvale, which provides aid for disadvantaged communities in South Africa.
“I respect what they [Missionvale] do,” he tells me. “I think it is important that South Africa realise that we need to work together to build a better country… we spent all this time fighting apartheid.
“I am fighting a different fight now. I am fighting for justice… that’s something I am willing to die for.
Born in South Africa N’dou adopted Australia as his new home in 1996, and spent much of his career fighting under the Australian flag.
His life story as a teen and young man, before finding success, was at times harrowing, with run-ins with South African police and as a victim of racism both in South Africa and elsewhere. But despite the many years of hurdles, the Sydney-based lawyer takes the highs and the lows in his stride.
He is now working on launching a new political party in South Africa – ‘Building a Better South Africa’ or BABSA – from a burgeoning political movement that N’dou is leading.
With community at its core BABSA, he says, is dedicated to “promoting social harmony, unity and the empowerment of the people of South Africa”, and he plans to run as a political candidate in the 2029 South African elections.
“Everything that has happened to me has prepared me for the future,” he says. “I am willing to put my life on the line to save my country.
“When it comes to running a country, we tend to run it into the ground.”
As a boxer N’dou had a record of 49 wins and 13 losses. The welterweight was never stopped and went the distance with the legendary Canelo Alvarez, as well as top boxers such as Miguel Cotto, Kell Brook, Kermit Cintron and Pauli Malignaggi.
N’dou, who started a journalism degree at UTS before switching unis to study law, recounted his child and teenage years growing up in Musina, a small South African town 15 kilometers from the border with Zimbabwe.
In a town ravaged by the apartheid system, the brutality of police and the expendability of human life there still haunts him.
“My childhood best friend Phathu was killed during a protest when he was only 12 years old,” he says solemnly. “He died in my arms.”
I was short of stature but long on ambition. I knew I wanted to be a lawyer from 16 years old.
In his memoir Tough Love, he described singing protest songs when the police opened fire, killing his friend alongside him.
“His death reinforced my own fatalism,” N’dou wrote. “Feeling the conviction that the currency of my own life had been devalued.”
The 52-year-old was to have further run-ins with the police and at 16 was severely injured when officers broke his arm and set a dog on him.
It was while lying in hospital N’dou decided he wanted to become a lawyer.
“I was short of stature but long on ambition,” he says. “I knew I wanted to be a lawyer from 16 years old… I want to give back to the community.”
Long after the end of apartheid in South Africa, the problem of violence remains.
UNICEF declared between January and March 2023 alone, the South African Police Service (SAPS) reported the violent deaths of 245 children as well as 969 gender-based murders against women. There was also an alarming 29 per cent rise in attempted murders since the first quarter of 2022.
With a twinkle in his eye N’dou shared his vision for BABSA and the community of South Africa.
“I still have hope,” he says.
“I have asked myself ‘what am I doing, but an educated man is a smart man who will always stand up.
“That’s what I am going to do, stand up for the community and fight.
“With their [South Africa’s] support, anything is possible.”
Since 2022, N’dou has been an Associate member for Missionvale, and this weekend will be fundraising for them in Bondi.
Missionvale’s ‘South African Day Out’ takes place on Sunday, September 10, at Bondi Bowling Club from 2-6pm with all proceeds going towards Missionvale.
To get a ticket, click HERE.
Main image supplied.