Boxing is not only about seeing two fighters exchange blows. It is about the build-up, the spectacle, the weigh-ins, the stare downs and undeniably the low-pitched announcement of the two competitors.
In Namibia, when it comes to ring announcing you can look no further than Tafanji Nyirenda who has announced some of the biggest local bouts I recent history.
Nyirenda was born in Zambia and came to Namibia to pursue a career of business administration and firstly made his name on radio as the host of the Urban Drive on Radio Energy. Soon after that, he was applying his voice in a different trade.
“I joined the Namibia Boxing Control Board in 2006 after meeting with Mr. Kelly Nghixulifwa (Chairman of the Board). It was a challenge from auditioning for the position but I was guided by Mr Nghixulifwa, Nestor Tobias and support from members of the boxing board – they are a great family. Since then it’s been an amazing journey,” Nyirenda tells The Villager Sport Desk.
He says that he draws inspiration from Michael Buffer, the ring announcer famous for coining the catchphrase ‘Let’s get ready to rumble.’
“Michael Buffer has been fortunate enough to ring announce for World class boxers and World boxing titles. What I borrow from him is the humble approach he has and I also use my humble approach with the boxers, trainers and promoters that I work with locally and internationally,” He says. He however adds he strives to remain unique by giving the perfect delivery and commitment of any work handed to him.
As his voice is the most important component of his profession, Nyirenda says he is well aware of the importance of protecting it however, it is not that difficult. He points to athletes such as soccer players who can be prone to injury before a game.
He says, “I can’t say that I am protected from having any unforeseen flu, cough or event before a boxing fight but I have been blessed to at least make sure that every boxing event is a spectacular.”
He says before a boxing match, it is important to not only rely on his voice but to do research on the match so he has adequate information. He also spends the time trying out new things so as not to stick to the old conventional way of announcing, such as adding jokes to his set.
With that in mind, he says he is not beyond stage fright. “It’s normal. I guess some entertainers would share the same sentiment. You are delivering a service or craft to a huge audience and it has to be received well so yes I do get stage fright.”
Nyirenda believes ring announcing is an important and invaluable component to the spectacle of boxing.
He says, “It’s important in giving the boxer some sort of inspiration, some hype and recognition of who they are. We all need that push before getting into any battle that life has to offer.”
As a supporter of local boxing, Nyirenda has witnessed many and was hard-pressed to pick out a single one of the many he has witnessed and ring announced.
“Over the past nine years all local fights have been a great show piece because when I get to the dressing room, I see the determination that all boxers have and the willingness to go the extra mile to be the victor of the fight they have at hand. That’s just amazing,” he says.
On the prospect of unearthing more Harry Simons and Paulus ‘The Hitman’ Moses, Nyirenda believes more support for local boxers, trainers and promoters from our Namibian corporate companies and community is needed. “I’ve learnt over the years that it’s not easy to become a renowned boxing sensation without support,” he says.
Of course he does not only keep an eye on local boxing. Having waited several years to see Mayweather and Pacquiao, he was not overly thrilled about the result when the two met in the ring for the first time on 2 May.
“What was with the running around and hugging all about? Well it took almost five and a half years for the fight to take place and I personally expected more. I was excited about staying up for a big boxing fight just like the good old days when we stayed up for big fights like that one,” he says, adding, “One thing I know is that boxing is a very technical sport and Mayweather won – though this fight had many different views on who the winner was.”
As for how long he would like to keep ring announcing, Nyirenda says, “I can’t really say but I am working and training some ring announcers that you will see in the boxing ring in the near future. I have some boxing events that I will announce soon and currently in talks with some organizers outside the country and I’m looking forward to that!”