Family Law

Punching up: How boxer Lovemore Ndou fought apartheid – and found his legal calling

As he lay in a hospital bed – falsely accused and beaten by police – sixteen-year-old Lovemore Ndou swore he would one day know the law. And fight for justice.


But his journey was far from easy. Unable to access education until he was nine years old, Lovemore had to overcome a system designed to keep him down.


And he did. Lovemore went on to become a world champion boxer, a hall of fame inductee and a successful lawyer. We spoke to Lovemore, a College of Law PLT, LLM and LPMC graduate, about his inspiring story.


Forbidden flirtation and false accusations

Lovemore grew up in apartheid South Africa. It was a nation divided, and at sixteen, he found himself on the receiving end of police brutality.


"A white girl flirted with me at a time when mixed relations were forbidden," said Lovemore.

"Initially, I was accused of sexually assaulting her. But they were unable to prove it. I was incarcerated for 90 days without a charge. When I was eventually released, I was accused of stealing candy from a supermarket owned by the girl's father. I was sentenced to six cuts for a crime I did not commit."


Lovemore was dragged to a local police station.


"There, the police abused me. They broke my arm, chipped my front tooth and set a dog on me – which almost tore out my right eye. This left me scarred for life," he adds.


Recovering in hospital, Lovemore vowed to become a legal activist so he could stand against the racism his people endured.


But first, he needed to rise above the apartheid system. After healing from his wounds, he found a way: by channelling his anger through boxing and fighting competitively in his hometown of Musina.


Lovemore was ferocious inside the ring – using past trauma to fuel his focus. He quickly climbed the ranks, going from aspiring amateur, to South African champion, to professional on the world stage.


In 2007, the IBF Junior welterweight belt was around his waist. And from 2009 to 2010, Lovemore wore the IBO welterweight title with pride.


Following his retirement in 2012 ¬– after a gruelling 19 years of combat – Lovemore was inducted into the boxing hall of fame.


But though he’d hung up his gloves, the final bell hadn’t sounded on his career.

The importance of education

With his pugilist days behind him, Lovemore settled in Australia and set his sights on a different opponent: the legal system.


He completed a Bachelor of Laws, followed by his Practical Legal Training with the College. This empowered him to fulfil his dream of becoming a lawyer and to push for change.


"For me, law is about fighting for justice – it’s the best tool we have. I enjoy helping people unravel seemingly intractable problems," he remarks.

Speaking for those without a voice

Lovemore has always been passionate about supporting the marginalised.


“The incarceration rate of Aboriginal people in Australia is disproportionate and the system inflicts serious injustices upon them. I have painful memories of my upbringing in South Africa, and I am determined to do my bit to aid Australia’s Indigenous people in any way. I want to make sure they are treated with respect and equanimity under the law."


Taking on cases close to his heart inspired Lovemore to publish his autobiography in 2020. It’s how he shares his story and inspires others – particularly those facing systemic racism and poverty.


"I experienced the injustices and poverty of the apartheid system. I witnessed atrocities committed against my family. And I saw my best friend gunned down in a street protest. Despite this, I succeeded and rose through the ranks to become a boxing world champion, a hall of fame inductee, an author, and now, a successful lawyer,” he says with humility.



Lessons learned in the ring


Early in his legal career, Lovemore took setbacks personally.


“I think it had to do with my competitive nature," he explains. "I did not like losing in court.”


But he soon realised that it was part of the game.


“You have to be phlegmatic about situations and acknowledge that you’re always going to win some and lose some,” he concedes. “It’s unavoidable.”


Calming his competitive nature has been one key to his success.


"I am glad I was able to stop taking matters personally and accept that it is not always about winning, but about getting the best result for your client and putting in a good argument – win or lose."


He also reflects upon the lessons learnt inside the ring.


"Boxing taught me that success comes with hard work, dedication, perseverance and great preparation," says Lovemore.


"Similarly, to be a successful lawyer, you must work hard, and this requires great preparation.”


Returning to study


Lovemore comes back to the importance of constantly learning.


"I did not get the opportunity to go to school until I was nine years of age, yet I was committed to educating myself – to making the most of my life. I epitomise the value of education.”


He also practises what he preaches. Lovemore returned to the College to complete an LLM in Family Law, which armed him with a breadth of skills to take his practice – and cause – further.


"Whichever area of law you want to specialise in, the College can assist you. If you need to become an expert in an area of practice, there is always a course for you to do."


But his journey wasn’t over. With the College’s Legal Practice Management course offering the perfect pathway to build his confidence, Lovemore started his own practice.


Lovemore Lawyers was born.


“The College of Law is the best college in Australia. If you want to learn from the best, it is the place to go. It has never failed me."


Want to follow in Lovemore’s footsteps?


Learn about The College of Law’s pathways and discover where they could lead you.