After his father passed away when he was still a young boy, Obed Gumede well known as ‘3’ left school to begin working at a very early age. He found a job at the West Street branch of Kings Sports, where he became exposed to the widest variety of facets in sports; and from his early 20’s, he pursued his interest in boxing. Obed trained under Moffatt Ngcobo and Tommy Goqo at the Boxing Merebank Gym, and became a professional boxer in 1960. He attained success in the Lightweight division, with the highlight of his fighting career being crowned the Natal Provincial Lightweight Champion.
When his professional boxing career came to an end in the early 1970s, Obed founded the soccer development team known as The Umlazi Citizens, which was dedicated to finding talented young players in the township and training them to become competitors in the National Premier Soccer League between 1971 and 1995. Obed achieved success in this endeavour, when The Umlazi Citizens were promoted into the senior league, but he was sadly relieved of his position by the directors once this objective had been attained. Following these events, Obed returned to his first love in sport, namely boxing. In his spare time he began to train young men in a gym improvised at a local community hall.
Since his retirement he has dedicated himself to this calling in an almost full-time capacity, following his deeply held belief that youth in our society must be given healthy alternatives in life, in order for them to see the value of discipline, hard work and respect. His many success stories can be seen in the large number of provincial champions produced by his modest gym.
Although training space for his gym is currently provided by the eThekwini Municipality at the Umlazi Indoor Sports Centre. Pakela Radebe has assisted with transport of competitors to tournaments in Tongaat and other locations, Obed has personally supported his dedication to boxing in Durban. He has achieved all his remarkable success without seeking sponsorships from major sporting brands.
At the age of 84 he remains active in boxing and has recently introduced boxing to a new field of young female athletes, who have taken up gloves with remarkable accomplishment. Anele Ndlovu and Philile Nyawo, both just 16 years of age, have been trained by Obed and now compete in the Flyweight division. In 2015 Anele Ndlovu won the title of Best Junior Boxer at a tournament held at Welkom in the Free State.
More than just winning a trophy, Gumede believes that the discipline that boxing instills in the young and boys and girls that he takes under his wing, is the real prize for these children, many of whom have gone on to achieve great things.