It’s up to the minister to bring back sanity to boxing

The standoff between the boxing promoters’ association and Sports Minister Zizi Kodwa over the newly appointed board of Boxing SA is adding to the factors impacting negatively on South African boxing.

The latest crisis arises from the National Professional Boxing Promoters Association (NPBPA) interdicting Kodwa over the new BSA board he appointed late last year. As the story published in Sunday World last weekend indicates, it is incumbent, as per legislation – the Boxing Act – on the sports minister to consult with the promoters’ body before announcing his decision on the board.

The court action’s impasse has resulted in a flurry of tournament cancellations, which has an impact on all promoters – from newbies such as Nomvelo Magcaba-Shezi to old hats like Rodney Berman.

It’s not good for these businessmen and women, who make huge investments and sacrifices to make sure tournaments are staged, to suffer such setbacks.

Needless to say, the most affected key stakeholders in the sport, the boxers, are being denied opportunities to earn a living from their craft. Boxing is a difficult sport, with its practitioners forced to train for weeks and months ahead of fights, scheduled or not, and to sweat blood and tears during contests. Sometimes the money is never enough for their efforts but at the end of the day, the boxers and their families must eat.

This standoff delaying the tournaments, whether driven by egos or procrastination, is entirely uncalled for, more so at the time when local boxing is struggling to bounce back to be counted among the leading sports in the country again.

If Kodwa did not know about the law in the act, compelling him to consult with NPBPA over the board members of his choice, he knows full well now. Mr Minister, please bite the bullet for the sake of the sport, and call the promoters’ association to a meeting to iron out any issues acting as stumbling blocks.

SA boxing has been on the ropes for a long time now and as a sports loving nation, we cannot afford to see boxing dealt a knockout punch that will floor it for good.

Boxing in SA may not be what it used to be compared to the 70s, 80s and 90s, when we were the biggest boxing country in Africa. The reality, however, is that the love for boxing in our country is still alive.

Even pundits today name SA as Africa’s third biggest boxing country on the continent, behind Ghana and Nigeria at the moment.

Despite those lofty ratings, our biggest task as a country is not to seek to beat Ghana, Nigeria or Egypt in the numbers game. Our mission is to be well organised, to restore order and produce a new horde of representatives for the country in the Olympics and other international events for amateur boxing.

We need to go on and produce professional boxers competent enough to contest for world titles.

For all this good that we desire to see in boxing to happen, we first need competent and diligent leaders to run the sport as administrators as well as board members.

The sports minister can set the ball rolling now by seeing the NPBPA leadership over the board issue. And afterwards, he can use his political leadership and influence to help fix all other problems affecting the sport without fear or favour.

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