Boxer under fire stays holed up in his hotel

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The Independent Online
The British boxer Warren Stowe is holed up in a South African hotel. He is watching television for most of the day and emerging only as far as the restaurant. Venturing anywhere else is out of the question. Mr Stowe is not of a mind to take the slightest risk to his well- being after his fight in Cape Town on Sunday night was abruptly halted by gunfire.

"I thought they were shooting at me," he said yesterday. "That's all that kept going through my mind when I saw what was happening just 10 metres away from where I was fighting. People now keep suggesting to me that I should go outside, go down to the harbour. They reckon there are safe areas but I don't know where they are or what I might have to get through to get to them. I'm not risking anything. I just want to get home but till the car comes to take me to the airport I'm staying put."

Stowe's middleweight bout with the South African champion Simon Maseko was entering its eighth round when the sound of shots pierced that of the legitimate violence at the Guguletu sports centre. A cashier died during the raid from which four robbers fled empty-handed. Yesterday the South African police said that they had arrested four men in connection with the murder.

Stowe, his trainer Jimmy Moore and Maseko took refuge under the ring. "I suppose I'm still getting over it," he said from his room in the Metropole Hotel yesterday. "It's not something you forget in a hurry.

"I counted nine shots in all and nobody was surprised when I suggested they might be aimed for me," he said. "We were about 20 seconds into the round when I heard the first one. I wouldn't have had a clue what it was except that I'd heard a sound just like it outside the hotel the night before and been told that it was a gun. My trainer told me to get down but I thought I'd do better than that. I leapt through the ropes, realised there was nowhere to go and got under the ring. Even when the police arrived I felt intimidated when I was escorted straight out of the place to the car. Hundreds of people were round it."

Stowe, 30, took the fight because of Maseko's status as champion and in the hope that it might give him a chance of a fight for the British middleweight title sometime next year. He will not be returning until Friday to the home he shares in Rochdale with his girlfriend Toni and his three-year-old daughter Kate.

"People have been fine at the hotel but this is an impossible place to feel comfortable in. It's been a useful experience for me but I've never been in a situation like this before."

The boxer in him still prevails. While he has turned down an offer to finish his fight with Maseko this Saturday he is anxious to meet him again.

"I think I'd just got on top again when the shots came. I wouldn't jump at the chance of coming to South Africa for it but in the end I suppose I would. It all comes down to the money."