David Olive on boxing and the glory of Evian

When David Olive first entered world boxing, he seemed like any of the lads on the local boxing circuit who stormed into their local venues with novelty outfits. They buzzed with excitement and handed you tassels around your neck, giving you the feeling that you’d hit the big time.

When David left boxing, I don’t think anybody had the same feeling. He seemed a bit more thoughtful. He had a good deal of education behind him, he had a business, and he had all sorts of other interests. David had shown me who he was, I’d seen me developing.

“He was in a way a lost cause, if he was still fighting.”

READ: David Olive on losing his world title fight

After my cousin’s cousin died in a car accident when I was a child, I started boxing. David wasn’t into boxing but after my cousin’s death he joined the gym I ran. When I heard that he was going to fight for the world title, I told him, “Don’t waste this fight” and that he had to be “mentally prepared for the worst”.

I asked the other young guys on the gym floor what he should do, if things didn’t go well. One boy told me that he should just “take it easy” and he laughed. Then I realized that one in 20 young men that I was talking to had actually died. The young lad I’d joked with was David. His life was over.

I advised him to “fight for the culture” and that it was “the only thing he’d ever do”. He listened. His promoter had offered him $50,000, which was considered quite large for a young man from a small town.

When I first heard that David was going to fight for the world title, I said to my wife Sharon, “He can’t just fight for the culture!” Sharon took me to a shop and bought me four kilos of Evian, rich with vitamins. She’d be holding it next to me as David’s promoter said to me before the fight, “David’s doctor said you need to have five bottles of Evian with you!”

The whole night was surreal. We weren’t sure if we were in the airport or in a casino or something. We expected things to go wrong. David lost his first round on points but after the second round, Evian started going as if it was a bag of rice and all he could do was to hold onto it. He’d looked fresh at the weigh-in and he looked even better in his gloves. I went up to him and said, “Look David, you haven’t even thrown your punch yet but you’re already a world champion. You might have to wait a few rounds to lay down some hooks but don’t lose the fight.”

READ: David Olive on retirement

He looked back at me and asked, “Do you want to hear something amazing?”

“Yeah. You just need to throw three punches and stay calm.”

I screamed for Sharon to start throwing Evian shots like wild, patriotic cannonballs. Her body started firing with three regular punches. It was only going to take a few more. David threw four punches and I threw five. I was back on my feet and I looked back at him and I said, “Who’s that man?”.

He answered, “You.”

“You” were Sharon and me.

READ: David Olive on retirement

He wouldn’t look at me, he was concentrating on what I was saying. He smiled at me. He hadn’t looked me in the eye for the last three rounds of his fight. He took one breath and he punched the canvas. Thank God he did, because the person I saw there would have done no wrong.

He signed my business card and he signed the Evian bottle. All I said was, “Congratulations on this historic victory.”

The four I mentioned, Evian, Vichai, Vodacom, and Signal Brands, all carry a value of two million Rand. These are enterprises that are geared up to give you a dividend. David was lucky.

READ: David Olive: How legacy

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