David Rajuili: The Life of A Pro Boxer
We chat to David Rajuili, former World Boxing Federation (WBF) International Super Featherweight title holder, former WBF All Africa champion and former WBF International champion, about life as a professional boxer. Rajuili’s boxing journey has displayed a strong theme of dedication from the moment he put on his first pair of boxing gloves as a 9-year old boy to today, where he is one of the best featherweight boxers in Africa. Rajuili steps out of the ring to give us the lowdown on what it means to be a pro boxer.
The life of a Pro Boxer with David Rajuili
Crush: Tell us a little bit about yourself and what made you decide you wanted to be a pro boxer?
David Rajuili: I grew up in the Southern suburbs of Johannesburg and started boxing when I was nine years old. I clearly remember being inspired when my mother woke me up one morning, sat me down in front of the TV and said, “I want you to watch this man, this is a great man.”
What I watched was a documentary called “The Road Warrior”, which was a story about Brian Mitchell, South Africa’s greatest boxer and to date the only South African boxer to be inducted into the boxing hall of fame. The next day I started my journey in boxing.
Crush: People may perceive boxing as a violent sport – is this true?
David Rajuili: No, I disagree, I would say boxing is a gentleman’s sport. You can fight against your opponent but at the end of the event, you can look at him, shake his hand and go for a beer. After a while, you start to become friends with a lot of the guys and we land up helping one another after fights and with training.
So it kind of starts off with opponents wanting to kill each other, but then we become friends (laughs). So I’d say that boxing is more of a gentleman’s sport and not a violent sport.
Crush: Can you give us a rundown on your training regime?
David Rajuili: For the past 20 years, I’ve made boxing my life. I officially went pro when I was 23 years old and have been boxing since I was 9 years old. Since going pro I’ve had over 25 fights and seven title fights.
My training consists of 10 to 20 km runs on a daily basis, functional training, boxing training and sparring which consumes around 6 hours of my day.
My pre-fight 12-week training camps can be broken down to fitness training, sparring and functional training. My functional training consists primarily of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) in the early mornings and late evenings and is instructed by Gary Barret from True Muay Thai gym in Cape Town.
My boxing training is between week 8 and fight night which consists of boxing, hand pads, sparring and technical work. I do this with my coach and former two-time world champion, three-times international champion, four-times South African champion and four-times boxer of the year, Cape Town’s very own “Rose of Khayelitsha” Mzonke Fana.
My program also includes heavy dieting consisting of high protein, no carbs, and superfoods which help me through my events. My training is basically 80% diet and 20% in the gym.
Crush: Boxing can be a gruelling sport, how long does it usually take you to recover after a fight?
David Rajuili: After a fight, depending on the number of rounds we fight, I usually take off between a week or two, but other times I’m back in the gym as early as the following Monday.
Crush: Technique and fitness are obviously crucial to this sport, what other things are important in becoming a better boxer?
David Rajuili: Running is definitely the most important part of boxing hence having to do 10-15kms a day and lots of hill sprints during our training camp. Running obviously gives boxers the stamina that they need to get through multiple rounds. Mental preparation is another key factor in making me a better boxer. To mentally prepare for fights, I read a bit of the bible, watch some boxing fights and listen to classical music which calms me down while I prep for the fight.
Crush: Is there a way to anticipate your opponent’s next move? Are you constantly thinking about this in the ring, or is it more important for you to focus on what your next move is?
David Rajuili: During my training camp, I sit down with my team and we watch videos of my opponent. We focus on his strengths and weaknesses and use this information in strategising my game plan. When I’m in the ring, I tend to focus more on trying to execute all the training I’ve done in my training camp. Also, often when you step into the ring it lands up being completely different from what you anticipated or how you trained, so you need to adjust accordingly based on your instincts and make the fight your own fight.
Crush: Who has been your toughest opponent?
David Rajuili: My toughest opponent to date was former South African jnr. Lightweight champion Jasper Seroka for the South African Jnr. lightweight title. At the time, I only had 6 fights behind my name and he had 45 of which he had only lost 3. He was also top 50 in the world and far more of an experienced fighter than I was at the time. I lost the fight, but I learned more from that fight than I had ever learned before so in a sense, I still won!
Then I fought Lunga Stimela for the ABU (African Boxing Union). He was a very tough fight and is one of the top rated fighters in Africa at the moment – he was also awarded Prospect of the Year in 2017.
He’s known as the ‘Pressure Cooker’ and we are both come-forward fighters so it was a tough match. Who knows, maybe Lunga and I will step into the ring together again soon.
Crush: What’s been the toughest point in your boxing career?
David Rajuili: Losing my WBF all Africa title. I won my first title in 2016 in Slovenia and thereafter went up a division. I had to defend my title against Jonas Segu in September this year and I lost. I felt like I had done enough to win that fight but unfortunately, the judges didn’t see that I did so I needed to go back to the drawing board.
Segu and I will fight again next year in February for my title again and I’ll make sure that I win it this time.
Crush: Do you have a sporting hero that you look up to or who has influenced you in some way?
David Rajuili: Yes, as I mentioned in my childhood story of how I decided I wanted to be a boxer, Brian Mitchell definitely influenced me the most.
Crush: Do you have a boxing nickname?
David Rajuili: The Dangerous Darkie.
Crush: What are you doing in your spare time when you aren’t knocking out your opponents?
David Rajuili: (Laughs) Well, I haven’t really knocked down any of my opponents but in my spare time I love to give back to the community, I love fishing and watching movies and just being the best I can be in the moment.
Crush: What advice would you give to young/aspiring boxers wanting to follow a similar path to you?
David Rajuili: I would say never give up. Boxing is a really tough sport but you need to follow your dreams live in that ambition and just keep pushing, the world is your oyster. Work hard and train hard because hard work always pays off. Always be in the gym and working to your best, and dream for the biggest because anything is possible in the world of boxing.
Don’t let anybody tell you can or can’t be a champion – implement hard work and dedication and you can become the best boxer that the world has ever seen.
If you won a million Rand what would be the first thing you’d buy? An Orphanage.
Your biggest fear? God. And admin!
Cats or dogs? Cats and dogs, ginger cats and Dobermans.
If you could visit anywhere in the world right now, where would it be? Amsterdam – Holland.
What is your favourite cheat meal? All types of junk food.