By Malibongwe Tokwe
Maliboxing blog presents to you the interview of the Toekomsrus child, the South African icon himself who has represented our country all over the world,
Jan Piet Bergman
Just like any other great champions, Jan had to find the reason to be a fighter in the boxing ring and his reason was extra ordinary and different as compared to most of the other fighters we know. The champ grew up in one of the roughest neighborhoods in South Afrika, Toekomsrus in Johannesburg.
He had to learn to fight due to the abuse he took from the young thugs of the projects he lived in, they bullied him by taking his money and beating him up for no apparent reasons. That harsh treatment did not last long though, he found himself training boxing to defend himself, and those that were training him discovered the rough diamond that had all the right attitude to be the great fighter.
Soon, Jan will earn respect by standing his grounds and fight and beat all those that abused him and eventually became the fighting pride of his neighborhood.
“My father made me fight all those boys that took my money and beat me, they were older than me, however with his presence, I lost none of those fights, he was my inspiration, I bliks…m all of them” he said that mixing the words with the laughter.
Now retired in his home, with chickens, ducks and dogs at the back of his yard, Jan talks about the values of growing up kids to be better adults, he shares his philosophies on what needs to be done by the community to produce well-mannered children that will be good parents. He explains the responsibility is something that is thought at early ages, hence children should grow up knowing chickens needs to be fed, and dogs needs to drink water, and it must be their responsibility to do those chores.
Jan Bergman has 20 years professional boxing career record of 49 fights with only 5 losses.
- The former South African superlightweight champion
- The former WBC international superlightweight champion of the world
- The former WBU welterweight champion of the world
At an early age of 16, as the junior in amateur rankings, he started to box at gym with professional fighters and among those was the SA lightweight champion from the same neighborhood of Toekomsrus, Aladin Stevens.
“The people I looked up to when I was a young boxer was the first black South African world champion Peter “Terror” Mathebula and the former SA lightweight champion from my naighbourhood Aladin Stevens, I wanted to be as successful as them in boxing” he recalled.
The champion shares the special relationship he had with Aladin Stevens, the beating he was taking when he learnt boxing by sparring him, he explains that every single punch he took from the champion was worth it, because he dished the same punches he took to all his opponents later in his career.
He then shares about the unfortunate title snatching of his gym mate Aladin when he lost his SA title to Danny Myburgh, “that was a day light robbery, Danny did not win that split decision fight” he explains.
Jan Bergman intentions to revenge the loss of Aladin against Danny never come to reality, as the new champion was kept away from facing him even though Jan was the number 1 challenger for the lightweight title.
“Considering what they did to Aladin, I would have really destroyed Danny if they allowed that fight to happen, they really did the worst thing to my friend and they never gave him the opportunity to fight for his title again” he recalled
Jan talks more about his boxing career, recalling the great two battles he had with Aaron “AK 47” Kabi and the strong relationship that developed between them after those two fights.
“We ended up being friends, I am still talking to Aaron even today, he is my buddy”
Jan’s boxing career was also taken abroad to America, where he trained with the legendary trainer Kenny Adams who was inducted into hall of fame on 2010. Some of the fighters trained by Kenny are Edwin Valero, Vince Phillips, Diego Corrales, Freddie Norwood, Charles Murray, Kennedy McKinney, Frankie Liles, Michael Nunn, Johnny Tapia, Ruslan Chagaev, Samuel Peter, Cory Spinks, and Michael Bentt.
“He was a great trainer, I really enjoyed my time with him, no man on earth understands boxing like Kenny Adams, he lives boxing, he knows all the punches in the books” Jan said that with absolute appreciation of the legendary trainer.
Jan made it clear that the trip for him to USA was great for his whole training camp, his SA coach he went with came back as a better trainer as well.
Jan also shares the funny stories when he met Mike Tyson shopping in one of the states in USA. “They asked everyone to leave the store for him to shop and buy without any interruptions, I could not believe it” he said. “He was walking with tigers in town, I thought he was crazy” he laughs.
After I asked him what he thinks about the fight he had with Kostya Tzyu, he answered,
“When he hit me with that right hand, he tripped the main switch, never in my life I was his that hard” he laughs covering his face with slight embarrassment in his eyes.
Jan explains he was ready for that fight and wishes he sticked to the game plan, “after hurting him with the left hook I got careless and went for the kill, and that is when things went bad, i did no see the punch coming he caught me flat without seeing“
Jan Bergman talks more about the fights he had with Zab Judah and few other global fighters he trained with. His appreciation of boxing and the moments he had with other fighters is what he cherishes, he even named his son after his greatest heavyweight fighter Evander Holyfield. “I asked for his permission to name my own son (Evander Bergman) and he agreed” he explained. “In my whole life I have never imagined that a big guy like Holyfield can fight like he did for 15/12 rounds, he was unbelievable in his prime” he said.
He also referred to the unfortunate loss he suffered when the fight was stopped at the end of round 6 in the 8 rounds scheduled fight against Junior Witter. “I thought he gave up, I thought it was the TKO and I was surprised when I was told we were fighting a six round fight, I could not believe it” he explained.
I even named my son after him (Evander Bergman), “I asked him if I can name my son after him and he agreed and so I did”
The champ thanked all his supporters around the world for everything they did for him, he also spoke about the boxing promotion he is involved in with Dingaan Thobela and Lehlohonolo Ledwaba, telling us that it is going to be the best promotion in the country.
Maliboxing blog would like to thank the champ for his time, the great boxing he displayed in the ring and the recognition he gave to our country when he competed abroad. Thank you Jan you are a great champion who is a great family man.
Ladies and gentlemen enjoy the great interview with Jan Berman