ems foundation logo


Image Credit: Daily Maverick



“Awubizwanga Uzizele, no one asked me to be here, I chose to be here” this is the mantra of the Overberg Whale Boxing Club which was founded by Mzi Damesi in 2007 and was formally registered as a non-profit organisation in 2011.

The boxing club is housed in the Zwelihle village, Zwelihle means “Beautiful Place” and it is situated between Hermanus and Sandbaai in the Western Cape of South Africa.

The boxing gym is situated, for the moment, at the Zwelihle Sports Grounds in Lusaka Street. The gym consists of three converted shipping containers set around a central concrete square.

Despite having very limited resources, the most basic facilities and equipment Mzi’s dedication and his pupil’s hard work the OWBC boxers have enjoyed phenomenal success, not only regionally but nationally too.

Image Credit The Village News

Hermanus businesswoman Carole Dods, volunteers as the club’s spokesperson and fundraiser. Michelle Botha also represents the OWBC and is on OWBC Committee. During the official COVID_19 lockdown Michelle Botha has been officially tasked with delivering a weekly food supply to vulnerable children in the Zwelihle village.

Mzi offers classes for free to over forty members aged between eight and twenty-five. He has become a father figure for many of his boxers. The EMS Foundation has become an important partner to the OWBC.

Elizabeth Steyn, Patron of the EMS Foundation with founder of the OWBC and Michele Pickover director of the EMS Foundation

The COVID_19 pandemic and the official “lockdown” of South Africa has made life extremely difficult for every single citizen. Nowhere are these difficulties more apparent than in our most vulnerable societies.

The EMS Foundation’s key purpose is to alleviate and end suffering, and provide dignity to the most vulnerable groups of people in South Africa. In keeping with our purpose we made the decision to assist the community leaders that we have aligned ourselves with. Food security for their people has become a priority to these community leaders.

Pick n Pay Hermanus were incredibly generous and really helpful with assisting the EMS Foundation with our order. We are very grateful to them at a time when large stocks especially difficult to acquire.

Pick n Pay have been very enthusiastic with regard to our overall mission and their support of our relationships with community leaders is incredible, without their attention to detail and kindness these emergency food relief programmes would not have been easily possible.

Mzi Damesi, Candice Martin from Pick n Pay Hermanus and Michelle Botha

The huge EMS Foundation order of basic dry foodstuffs for the most vulnerable families was co-ordinated by Candice Martin of Pick n Pay, Mzi Damesi and Michelle Botha and delivered to the OWBC premises. Families were then invited to collect food parcels. Special permission was granted for the entire process. Mzi Damesi organised the necessary hand washing processes at the collection point.

“Alone, we can do so little, together we can do so much” Helen Keller
“No one has ever become poor from giving” Anne Frank

The courageous actions of President Ramaphosa of closing schools, cancelling events, shutting down international and domestic travel, locking down the entire nation are extraordinary and necessary measures to prevent the virus from extending to the most vulnerable societies in South Africa. These decisions were not taken lightly because of the huge economic risks.

We cannot neglect our fundamental responsibility which must be to support these communities and this is made so much easier for us by people such as inspirational community leaders such as Mzi Damesi.

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth” Muhammad Ali.

Ali an American professional boxer, activist and philanthropist. He is widely regarded as one of the most significant and celebrated sports figures of the 20th century and as one of the greatest boxers of all times.

© Copyright EMS Foundation 2020. All rights reserved.