An exciting Fighter, the IBF Jr. featherweight Champion, Lehlohonolo "Hands of Stone" Ledwaba 28 from Soweto, South Africa began boxing at the age of 9. He had an excellent amateur career with 157 fights only 3 losses, turning pro October 1990. In 1994, he won the South African Jr. featherweight Championship before adding the World Boxing Union (WBU) bantamweight title to his collection in November 1996 by winning a 12 round decision over Cruz Carbajal of Mexico city. In the fight Ledwaba knocked Carbajal down twice in the eighth round. Ledwaba defended his title once against Italian Gianmaria Petriccioli and successfully retained his crown before reliquishing it to move up in weight class. on May 29, 1999, a new king was crowned when "Hands of Stone" took on former WBA world Champion, John Michael Johnson for the vacant International Boxing Federation (IBF) Jr. featherweight title which former world Champ, Vuyani Bungu vacated to step up in weight earily 1999. Ledwaba took an impressive 12-round unanimous decision outboxing tough and dangerous puncher Johnson to capture the IBF title. September 25, 1999, Ledwaba is trained by reknown trainer Mzi Mnguni and made his United States debut on the Mosley-Rivera card by retaining his title on his first defense against Colombian Edison Valencia via a fourth round TKO. I caught up with the champion after the fight.
Ike: Congratulations, Champ! How does it feel to retain your IBF Jr. world featherweight title for the first time? Ledwaba: It feels really great to keep my title since it's my debut in America. I'm glad it turned out the way it did. Boxing Fans like what they saw, they were happy to see a good fight, they all responded positivily to me, I hope to come back soon as they saw the skills and ability I have. They had the opportunity to see boxing in a different style. Ike: What inspired you to get into Boxing? Ledwaba: It was my uncle who was a Boxer, he use to take me with him to the gym then I developed the like for the sport after that. I started to box when I was 6 years old, When I became 9 I started to fight for charity organizations. Ike: What do you mean by you were Boxing for Charity organizations? Ledwaba: In Soweto, South Africa where I grew up. We fought at the Greater Soweto, the winners will receive awards from the organization and I won several medals and trophies. Ike: About how many medals and trophies did you secure? Ledwaba: Well, I won about 20 medals and 33 trophies. Ike: When did you turn pro? Ledwaba: I turned professional when I was 19, by knocking out Ephraim Madie in the third round. Ike: Your Pro record shows that you won the South African Junior feather- weight in 1994. How many times did you defend the title? Ledwaba: I defended the title 4 times before going for the WBU world bantamweight title and I won that too winning a 12 round decision to Cruz Carbajal. Ike: How did you feel to capture the IBF Jr. featherweight title in May 1999? Ledwaba: Ike, I felt great! It was a new thing and I was so happy. Ike: How do you feel now that you defended it to Edison Valencia by way of fourth round TKO and it's your US debut? Ledwaba: What makes me more happy is that I dedicated this fight to my Manager David Kgotsane who passed away a month ago while I was preparing for this fight. He left me during training and it really hurts. It really felt very bad and pained. In fact, it made me win this fight. I can't easily forget it but that's life. I don't make it to affect my own life, we just have to move on, there nothing we can do. This fight wasn't my best performance, it didn't come out the way I expected it. I took the first three to size him up, but when I saw he didn't have it, I had to finish him up in the fourth round and knock him out. He couldn't take my body punches. Ike: How did you get your ring name? Ledwaba: A guy called Agent Twaler gave me that name because he said I have devastiating punching power. I used to knock my opponent down all the time. Ike: How long did you work with Kgotsane? Ledwaba: I've worked with him from the beginning of my boxing career. Ike: What's your impression of Vuyani Bungu? Ledwaba: I've known Bungu all my life, he's my good friend and a very good fighter. Ike: What's your trainning routine like? Ledwaba: I train everyday 7 days a week, I start in the morning by running in the mountains for about an hour, then afternoon I chop the trees, then rope skipping and work with the boxing bags. I sparr only if there is a fight coming up and I don't lift weights. Ike: What do you like about Boxing? Ledwaba: The fact that it's a disciplined sports, it requires constant trainning, you have to be always in the gym, you have to work very hard and it makes your job easier on you if you work hard. The more you work out the easier it becomes. Ike: What's your advice to those who wish to get into Boxing? Ledwaba: It's a tough sports, once you decide to do it you have to sacrifice other things to achieve your goals. Ike: Who's your favorite fighter? Ledwaba: Trinidad is the man! I like his style, he's a very clever fighter, he's very young and quiet. Ike: Who would you like to fight next? Ledwaba: I want to meet the WBA Jr. featherweight Champion (Nestor Garza) for a unification bout. Ike: What do you look to accomplish in boxing? Ledwaba: I want things to get better for my family, I was brought up in hardship by my mother and I want to take care of them now. I've a brother and two sisters and a daughter Kopano, who's now is 2 years old. Ike: Lehlo, thanks for the opportunity you have given us to chat with you on your passed and future Boxing career. We wish you the best of luck and your fans are looking forward to seeing you fight more in the United States. Have a safe trip back to South Africa, I personally hope to be there one day. Ledwaba: Thanks for your coming out to support me and I'll be in touch with you. Best wishes to you too.