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South African Grandmothers Are Boxing to Fight Old Age

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Some older women in South Africa are fighting the effects of aging with boxing exercises.

They call themselves the grannies. They belong to a boxing group near the South African capital, Johannesburg. The 75-to-80-year-old women are fighting the pains of aging while keeping their bodies fit.

Mariam Barie is one of the boxing grannies.

'The advice I give to other grannies like me is that they should leave the old way of telling themselves that they are old, and that they are grannies, and to try their best. Just because you are a granny does not mean you need to burden yourself with that word 'granny.' You need to wake yourself up and show that you are a granny with life.'

The group started five years ago with a special, aerobic exercise training program. Nqobile Khumalo is one of the boxing trainers.

“We were doing fitness…they saw my gloves. And then they just tried them on. And then since from there, they just never stopped.”

Boxer Constance Guban seems to have turned back time.

“I feel young. I feel like I’m 16, but my age is 80, yes.”

Boxing is more than just good exercise for at least one of the grannies. Germina Maluleka learned recently that she has cancer. She says boxing gives her new hope for the future.

'The gym has helped me through my illness. When I was starting out I had a problem with my feet. I used to have swollen feet. Since going to the gym I do not have that problem anymore. I never used to have a problem with my knees, with my legs, but the gym helped me a lot.'

The trainers say the grannies are inspiring a younger generation to get fit at an earlier age.

I’m Jonathan Evans.

Arash Arabasadi reported this story for VOANews. Jonathan Evans adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

Words in this Story

aerobic – adj. strengthening the heart and lungs by making them work hard for several minutes or more

boxing – n. the sport of fighting someone with your hands while wearing very thick gloves

burden – v. to make (someone) hold or carry something heavy or accept or deal with something difficult

granny – n. an informal term for grandmother

inspiring - v. making someone want to do something; to give someone an idea about what to do or create

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