Fikile Mbalula ready to fight boxing promoter Branco Milenkovic

2014-05-19 10:16

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Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula has declared war on boxing promoter Branco Milenkovic.

“I’m ready for Branco, I can fight him anywhere, anytime, if needs be, I am prepared to go to the highest court in the land,” Mbalula said during a press conference at Sascoc House in Melrose, Joburg, yesterday.

The two are at war over the more than two-year old boxing drought on SABC TV screens.

The Serbian-born Branco Sports Productions boss took Boxing SA and the SABC to court in 2012 to block the two parties from signing a broadcasting rights deal.

At the centre of this wrangle is the question of who owns the broadcasting rights between boxing promoters and Boxing SA – a public entity administered by the Department of Sport and Recreation.

Mbaluka also accused Milenkovic of playing games with the department despite a resolution taken during last year’s National Boxing Indaba.

Milenkovic promised to drop the court case but eventually made a U-turn by adding conditions, said Mbalula.

“We need to get out of the courts as soon as yesterday and resolve the broadcasting rights matter and get boxing back on TV,” said Mbalula.

“But what I will never do as the Minister of Sport is to agree to the perpetual exploitation of poor boxers. They cannot speak for themselves because they are scared but I will fight for them because I have got nothing to lose.”

Milenkovic refused to respond to Mbalula’s comments, saying he would apply his mind first before hitting back.

Sports department Director-General Alec Moemi threw his weight behind Mbalula, saying they would relook their legal strategy if Milenkovic refuses to cooperate.

At the same press conference, a new seven-member Boxing SA board was announced, featuring Ntambi Ravele and Peter Ngatane from the board that collapsed in December last year.

The newcomers are Khulile Radu, Luthando Jack, Zandile Kabini and Mandisinde Gcilitshana.

The board members, who are expected to serve up to May 2017, have a huge task on their hands to save the sport from permanent demise.

Being a Boxing SA board member has never been easy. In the past, every single board member had resigned before completing their term.

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