Portrait – Colin Nathan, Boxing Coach

Portrait -Colin Nathan, Boxing Coach

Article by Forbes Africa Journalist Thobile Hans

Colin Nathan is one of the few people who can say they are living the dream. As a successful boxing trainer, he wakes up every morning and looks forward to going to work.

He shares his beautiful house in Norwood, south of Johannesburg, with his wife Lara, his eight-year-old son Daniel and a new addition to the family, Jamie, who is only two months old. After settling in at his home, we get straight to where it all began for the man some regard as presently the most successful trainer in the country.

“I was only seven years old when I started nagging my father to take me with him to the boxing gym,” he says.

Nathan brightens up and become passionate when he talks about his formative years in boxing while growing up in Cape Town. His father, Stan, was a cutman and worked with boxers like the Whiteboy brothers Chris and Derrick, Sydney Hoho and Bashew Sibaca.

At the Sea Point Boxing Club, the young Nathan fell in love with the hustle and bustle of the boxing gym. His favorite activity was using boxers’ stomachs as punching bag, and the pugilists were happy to let him as he was too small and skinny to hurt them.

In 1988, while in the fourth grade at school, Nathan remembers yelling instructions at the sparring boxers, much to the amusement of everyone in the gym. Noticing his growing passion for the sport, Stan started taking his son to work with him in the corners of his boxers. This was illegal and when noticed in 1990, Stan was forced to register him as a bucket boy. This makes Nathan the youngest bucket man in South African history Nathan’s involvement in boxing deepened when he moved to Johannesburg in 1998 to double up as a television presenter on SABC.

This led to him becoming the youngest boxing commentator in the country at 20 years of age. Another milestone was in 2000 when Nathan, at the age of 22, became the youngest South African to own a boxing gym – the Hot Box Gym in Glenhazel, a north-eastern suburb of Johannesburg. After making a name for himself on television, boxers started approaching Nathan to be their manager. The first professional boxer in his stable was bantamweight, Andries Dick, who won his first five fights under Nathan. His second was Springkaan Khongoane who is still working with Nathan to this day. By this time, Nathan knew he wanted to become a fulltime trainer.

Being relatively young, it was tough convincing the boxing fraternity that he was the real deal. Boxing authorities used to mistake him for a boxer during weigh-ins and he found it difficult to convince promoters to sign his fighters. Around two years later, Khongoane became his first champion when he won the provincial super bantam weight title. With his growing success, former national champions like Tshepo Lefele, Mpush Makambi and Malcolm Klassen started joining his ranks and it became more and more difficult for Nathan to keep his head above the turbulent waters.

He decided to sign up with KO promotions and later with Branco Sports Productions, run by Branco Milenkovic. In 2005, he approached the biggest promoter in the country, Rodney Berman, who told Nathan he didn’t have any boxers he wanted to promote. Berman, however, had a change of heart the following year and signed up the young trainer in the Golden Gloves Promotions family. The rest is history.

“The last eight years have been nothing short of amazing,” says Nathan.

He has great respect for Berman, whom he says is one of his idols. Nathan rubbishes claims that the only reason Berman gave him a chance was because they are both Jewish. At one stage, people even said he was Berman’s nephew, especially when the promoter walked him down the aisle at his wedding. Berman’s faith in Nathan has paid off.

He has since produced world champions like Hekkie Budler, the IBO and WBA strawweight champion and the Ring Magazine’s No.1 ranked boxer in his division, and Zolani Marali, the former WBF junior-welterweight champion. He is also training the highly-rated Ryno Liebenberg who is undefeated in 16 fights. To take his training to the next level, Nathan spent two weeks with Freddie Roach, considered by many to be the world’s greatest trainer, in his Wild Card gym in Los Angeles. So, what did Nathan learn from Manny Pacquiao’s famous trainer?

“Commitment and responsibility,” says Nathan.

He has also met and taken advice from other renowned trainers like Angelo Dundee, who worked with Muhammad Ali, and Teddy Atlas, who worked with Mike Tyson. But does he consider himself the best trainer in South Africa? “In my eyes, yes, I think I am,” he says.

The latest success is Budler. The trainer considers Budler’s win over the dangerous Nkosinathi Joyi as his best achievement.

“Few gave light-hitting Hekkie a chance against the hard-hitting Joyi. But people didn’t know that I briefly worked with Joyi in my gym and I knew his weak points,” he says.

His biggest disappointment was when Budler lost his IBO light flyweight title, his only professional loss, by a split decision to Gideon Buthelezi. Colin Nathan says he was the first in the country to open his gym to commercial clients. He boasts training celebrities like musician Danny K, sport presenter Carol Tshabalala and President Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane. Although he now is well known in the country, Nathan has his wife and kids to ground him whenever he gets big-headed. To prove the point, he asks his wife who the best boxing trainer in the country is. With a mischievous smile on her face, Lara says “Nick Durandt?”

Photography – Jay Caboz

Location – Hot Box Gym  – Glenhazel, Johannesburg South Africa

Nathan’s shoot proved to be quite a challenge. The gym was quite “busy”, not unusual for a boxing gym, with loads of equipment and very low lighting. To eliminate this we went with a shallow depth of field shot and I used two portable flashes at a 45 degree angle to pop him out. It’s kind of standard lighting set up that I am comfortable with in low light situations.

He had these really awesome training gloves, the ones used by coaches for sparring, with his name on them that perfectly summed up who he is and what he does. We went for a strong body position and asked him to flex his muscles a bit.

Publication – Forbes Africa Magazine, December-January 2014 edition

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#SBSJA15 Young Journalist Winner and Finalist Feature Photo, Runner up in Multimedia Category #SANLAM

Last night was quite epic. There were two Journalism award ceremonies. I think I did pretty well.

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At the Standard Bank Sikuvile Journalism Awards, #SBSJA15, I was a finalist in the Feature Photography Category, and I walked away with The Young Journalist of the Year Award.

I ALSO was a runner-up at the SANLAM Financial Journalism Awards in the multi-media category.

“When Jay applied for a job at Forbes Africa he had been turned down by two newspapers. It was their loss. In just two years, he has travelled thousands of miles across Africa, slept in the bush on manoeuvres with anti-poaching squads, been charged by an elephant in Zambia, sailed through storms off the Cape, photographed mine detecting rats in Angola and marched with striking platinum miners. He is one of the most thorough, professional and energetic young journalists I have seen in 34 years in this business.” — Chris Bishop, managing Editor at Forbes Africa.

Here some shots from the portfolio I entered:

Dusi Marathon Emmarentia

From: Paddling through Sewage and Facing Guns

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From: Paddling through Sewage and Facing Guns

Dusi Marathon

From: Paddling through Sewage and Facing Guns

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From: Platinum Strike 2014

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From: Platinum Strike 2014

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From: Platinum Strike 2014

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From: A Rat Race Against Death

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From: A Rat Race Against Death

 

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From: A Rat Race Against Death

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From: A Rat Race Against Death

 

Cover Shoot – Brimstone for Forbes Africa Magazine

SEE THE FULL STORY HERE

I flew down a few weeks ago to get my second cover of the year for Forbes Africa Magazine. March 2015 Edition, out now on shelves and also written by me.

I would like to introduce Fred Robertson, a former teacher, and his partners Mustaq Brey, a self-taught chartered account from Wynberg, and Lawrie Brozin from Johannesburg – the men of Brimstone Investment.

At the turn of South African democracy these three men, from three different worlds, set out in the shadow of Table Mountain, in Cape Town, to change their fortunes. In April, it will be 20 years since they took $840,000 from working people in Cape Town and turned it into $628 million.FA 2015 Mar OFC

Shoot

1. How I got the shot?

Shooting in harsh sunlight is not always a walk in the park. Sunlight can be your friend and also your enemy. In order to place the Brimstone crew in front of Table Mountain the angle meant they were 1/3 in shadow and the other 2/3 in the sunlight.

So what do you do?

Obviously for a cover photo we weren’t going to use natural light so we packed up two Mono Heads. You then can underexpose your photograph so that the background is slightly darker and then blast your lights at full power. (See pic 1 and pic 2 below). The same effect can be created with two speedlights synced up, the Mono Heads are more powerful though.

In effect what you want to do is overpower the sunlight with the Mono Heads to cancel out the shadows.

To darken you background and soften the glare you can also use an ND filter. The filter acts like a Polaroid lens. Ever noticed how when you are at the beach the white sand can blind you? Well this is what the ND filter reduces. It also helps to darken the background, making it easier to shoot with artificial lights.

If you didn’t have the ND filter you would have to shoot at F16 or F32,which will create more depth of field in the background. (And yes I wanted to differentiate the background so I shot at F8). It also becomes a question of balancing the artificial light. Most cameras will only be able to sync at 1/200 or slower 1/60. (You get faster but this was what I was working with) With such a bright light outside this would have been tricky. At F8, without a ND filter you are looking at a shutter speed of somewhere in the region of 1/500 or 1/1000 to fast for the artificial lights.

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Picture 1: This is a photo taken without lights. See how the shadows are quite dark on their faces. You can’t see their eyes at all. For the cover shot this was the exposure I set my camera to, notice how dark the background is.

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Picture 2: It’s not in focus but you can clearly see how a flash can overpower the surrounding light. It is made easier because you underexpose for the background.

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Picture 3: Here is a behind the scenes shot. See how Nisaar and Nazima have to hold the lights up. As a consequence we couldn’t use diffusers to soften the white light with the monopods — they would have blown away. (We even had sandbags by the way) You can also see the wind blowing Brozin’s jacket on the far left.

2. Unexpected things? – WIND

Weather permitting Cape Town is one of the most beautiful locations in Africa to shoot. Emphasis on weather permitting. Luckily we had a few hands on deck to hold up the mono lights thanks Nisaar and Nazima! 🙂 (Picture 3)

It’s pretty much a waiting game when it comes to capturing the right moment. Outdoor shoots are tricky when you have to wait for the wind to lull. But the Brimstone crew were willing to embrace the moment (which I am quite grateful about)

3. Body Positioning?

Body position can make or break a shot. In Picture 1 you can see the Brimstone crew are standing in a tiered position. Shoulder behind shoulder. When we were initially brain storming the shoot (Yes we do this for all our shoots) we thought this would look appealing.

At the shoot I felt this was a little too posed and it looked extremely unnatural and too much like a Facebook photo.

We eventually moved the gentlemen to more of an inverted pyramid. 1. It slims the figure. 2. It leads the eye to the subjects. 3. In bright sunlight people tend to squint so I had to angle the bodies to get the subjects to look at me without closing their eyes.
Overall I was very happy with the outcome. It was something different to put on our cover and it was a challenge to overcome.

Portrait – Mark Bennett, iSchool

Portrait – Mark Bennett, iSchool

Beneath a rusty ceiling, in a room whose light blue paint is peeling from its cracked walls, Juste chisenga hands each of his seven-year-old pupils their latest learning aid – ultra-cheap tablet computers with software in Bemba, a language spoken across north-east Zambia. Known as ZEduPads, the tablets are part of a project aimed at making computers part of the everyday schooling of all young Zambians.

Dreamed up by British-born Mark Bennett, the solar-charged computers make technology accessible to children even where electricity supplies are non-existent. Available in all eight of Zambia’s official languages and preloaded with 12,000 classes, the tablets can be used almost anywhere in the country, allowing children to keep track of their individual progress across every subject they study.

Mark arrived in Zambia in 1985 on a two-year contract to work at a computer center at the University of Zambia. He stayed for twelve years, before branching out on his own, first starting africonnect, an internet service provider he sold to Vodacom in 2005, and then launching ZEduPad. Already, 7,000 of the tablets have been distributed across Zambia. “We’ve spent around US$6 million developing the software,” says Mark. “So far, we have had 2.3 million words translated into local languages and a quarter of a million sounds.”

Photography – Jay Caboz
Location – Kasisi Mission School, Zambia (A couple of kilometers outside of Lusaka) with Mark Bennett
Publication – see the articles here Forbes Africa Magazine May Issue, The Other Hundred Winner

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Mark Bennett (left) at Kasisi Missionary School

 

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Officially a “The Other Hundred Winner” — Jay Caboz #photographer Forbes Africa Magazine

It is with great pleasure that I can announce I am one of the “The Other Hundred” winners.  My entry — The Tablets Curing Rural Education was published in the Forbes Africa May 2014 Edition.

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In a rural school that has seen better days, seven-year-olds are now learning on innovative tablets. This is the $6-million brainchild of Mark Bennett who wants Zambia to embrace education-based technology at a grassroots level.

I was very fortunate to visit one of the schools where they are using the tablets in Zambia. Amazing to see in a place with no electricity children working on these things.

More of the story in Forbes Africa May 2014 edition. You can also see it featured in the top images of the month.

Updates - Summary Box

 

The Other Hundred — focuses on stories that capture the entrepreneurial spirit of people can be when it comes to taking control of their lives.

From their Website: The Other Hundred is a unique not-for-profit photo-book initiated by the Global Institute For Tomorrow (GIFT) aimed at providing a counterpoint to the mainstream media consensus about some of today’s most important issues.

At its heart, The Other Hundred is an attempt to introduce readers to the vast majority of people, ideas, places and cultures simply ignored by most major media publications. Whether it is an excessive focus on extremes of wealth or poverty, the obsession with whatever is dominating the current news cycle or the pushing of a particular political agenda, mainstream news no longer accurately reflects the experience of most people around the world.

Through an annual series of books, each focusing on a particular issue or subject, The Other Hundred will provide an alternative and refreshing view on everything from people and their homes to performers, chefs and authors.

 

Publications July Forbes Africa Magazine

Publications in the July edition of Forbes Africa Magazine. It was a busy month. Perhaps the highlights were taking photographs during the Oscar Pistorius case; and my rhino story. The photo essay on Rhinos and gold will be coming soon. I can’t release them until they have been published.

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Photographs taken during the Oscar Pistorius court case in Pretoria

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Article on the Free Nelson Mandela Concert, Nelson Mandela was locked in a toilet with Tony Hollingsworth before the concert began.

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Rhino poaching update

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E-tolls

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Frank Buyanga and Nick Kaufman

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Gold, gold, gold