Women’s Month is meant to celebrate the achievements of a group of tough women but it has also become an opportunity to highlight the violence that women continue to suffer at the hands of abusive men.
It is then tragically poignant that a highly accomplished and tough woman like Leighandre Jegels, was violently murdered by a coward who would probably not be able to take her on in a ring.
On Friday, the 25 year old fighter had been travelling with her mother to a boxing club in Mdantsane, when the former boyfriend, who is a policeman, is alleged to have flagged her on the Da Gama turn-off.
She decided to get out of her car to talk to him, presumably because she felt that, as a fighting professional, he did not pose a danger.
As she approached him, he pulled out a gun, shot her three times in her face, and then proceeded to shoot her mother.
The mother was rushed to a hospital in East London.
The boyfriend was arrested on the same day after he was involved in a head-on collision near Peddie, where one person was killed and four others injured.
Despite being only 25, Leighandre was an incredible human being with a list of achievements that speaks of how far women have come.
Once thought to be sporting disciplines only for men, Leighandre had dominated in both Karate and Boxing.
She started training when she was 10, went on to earn a black belt in Karate and was the national karate champion in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
She decided to pursue a professional boxing career in 2014 and two years later in 2016, she was crowned the South African Junior Bantamweight Champion
In 2017, she became the World Boxing Association’s ‘African Junior Bantamweight’ champion.
To understand what an amazing and skilled fighter she was, one would have to go back a few years, when she was a young karate protégé on a winning streak.
Weighing in only at 55kg, she took down her 83kg opponent with an inside thigh kick at the ‘All Africa Open Weight’ tournament in Cape Town.
The opponent had to be carried out of the ring on a stretcher.
As a boxer, she has had nine wins, no losses and seven knockouts.
Leighandre has a degree in education, is a former primary school teacher and recently completed a science degree.
Prior to her death, Leighandre had been in talks to stage a return to the boxing ring, both nationally and internationally.