Hillbrow is Johannesburg's most notorious inner-city neighbourhood. Yet under apartheid it was exclusively white and affluent. Despite the crime and deprivation, some people, like George Khosi, are trying to revive and reclaim the area.
From being one of the more desirable, exclusively white neighbourhoods during apartheid, Hillbrow steadily declined in the 1980s and 1990s when blacks moved in and Whites moved out. Soon it became a byword for crime and violence. Today, it remains characterised by inbound economic migration, grinding poverty, over-crowding, squatting, hard drugs and crime.
Against this backdrop George Khosi’s story unfolds: a childhood spent on the streets, surviving on petty crime, going to an adult prison at age 16 and starting to fight in jail to avoid being abused. When he got out of prison he took up boxing in earnest but his boxing career ended when he was shot during a bungled burglary, losing an eye and sustaining a leg injury. Undeterred he picked up his gloves again to teach Hillbrow’s youngsters to box with donated equipment on the forecourt of a disused petrol station. Thus began the ‘The Hillbrow Boxing Club’.