Boxing softens blow for struggling fighters

2011-05-28 19:59

Beleaguered veteran boxers are rarely given any help, particularly when they have retired, lending credence to the saying, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

However, some philanthropists have pledged to bring this to an end, explaining that they have formed the Soweto Veteran Boxing Association (SVBA) for this purpose.

The association’s aim is to lighten the financial burdens of veterans and greats who have fallen on hard times.

The body’s chairperson is Peter Ngatane, who also chairs Boxing South Africa, and his deputy is Obed Molekwa. Both officials have been passionate about boxing for more than 40 years.

Jeff Ellis of African Ring has arranged a five-bout tournament dubbed “Reunion of Boxing Legends” at Emperors Palace on July 2.

The primary idea, according to Ellis, is to ignite comradeship and brainstorm about ways to ease the suffering of former greats who are now bankrupt. A number of fighters who made it provincially, nationally and internationally will be invited.

The show, which is expected to celebrate the achievement of the legends, will ironically be a nursery tournament made up exclusively of four-rounders.
Ellis, a man who surprisingly acknowledges novices as well, will also invite a number of fighters who are greenhorns.

His zeal emanates from the thought that he has been associated with boxing for more than 50 years. He started boxing at the age of six, fought in the army and professionally, served nationally, managed, trained and currently promotes, among his umpteen activities.

Though this is Ellis’ brainchild and passion, he is planning it in conjunction with the East Rand Veteran Association.

SVBA member Len Hunt, a man who in the townships is known as a “black man trapped in a white skin,” said that they were touched by the veterans’ plight.

“We come across a lot of boxers who are selling their belts, pleading with us to help them find buyers and this hurts,” said Hunt, himself a world-acclaimed referee.

“Our aim in our association is to find ways of easing the financial pressure of our former greats as we cannot bear to see them suffering.”

Members of the SVBA include former national triple champions Anthony Morodi and Enoch Nhlapo.

The financial noose has tightened around the necks of a number of fallen greats as some former champions find their former riches eaten away.

Often, the ex-world titlists’ ability to earn these fortunes was matched by the ease with which they could dispose of them. According to reports, this includes heavyweights Mike Tyson, Gerrie Coetzee, Corrie Sanders, junior featherweight Vuyani Bungu, flyweights Peter Mathebula, Jacob “Baby Jake” Matlala and bantamweight Mbulelo Botile.

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