TV blackout puts SA boxing on canvas

2012-02-18 19:36

Every time Boxing South Africa (BSA) gets closer to clinching a deal on coverage with the SABC, something happens.

This was hinted at by BSA’s chief executive Moffat Qithi following the disappearance of live boxing from the box about two years ago.

Qithi emphasised that the changing of the guard at the SABC kept throwing BSA out of kilter.

“BSA and board members were on the verge of finalising talks with Rob Nicholson (axed acting group chief executive) when the new authority took over,” moaned Qithi.

“We absorbed the same blow when we were talking to Phil Molefe (acting chief executive), as Lulama Mokhobo (new group chief executive) took charge.

“We were close, particularly with Molefe, but are now back to the process of arranging a meeting with Mokhobo.

“However, we are optimistic as Mokhobo is permanently on the job.”

Local fights have not been televised for about two years and this has left fans in a state of uncertainty.

“Much of this had been due to a loss of sponsorship from Vodacom, as things had gone well until Vodacom didn’t renew a three-year contract,” SABC’s acting head of sport Sizwe Nzimande told Parliament.

Qithi would not disclose how much the blackout had cost the boxers and promoters except to say “millions and millions”.

The potentially mortal blow has been felt internationally.

Peter Lerner, a respected boxing expert in Europe warned that boxing in South Africa would ultimately die if this continued.

Kaizer Kganyago, head of SABC Group Communications, took exception to the word “blackout”. He argued that it gave the false impression that it was the SABC’s fault whereas the issue was funding.

“We are in the process of resolving the problem with the ministry of sport and BSA” said Kganyago.

“SABC deserves a pat on the shoulder because we have been televising fights for some time without anything in return.”

SABC board chairperson Ben Ngubane recently told Parliament that the broadcaster had invested a lot in developing boxing.

“There were financial constraints that restricted the events that could be covered.

“After the loss of major sponsorship, the corporation had continued to broadcast boxing at a loss.”

Minister of Sports and Recreation Fikile Mbalula, who could not be reached for comment, reportedly told Parliament: “I believe boxing is dying in terms of live broadcasting and the SABC must take responsibility for that.”

Internationally renowned promoter Branco Milenkovic warned that his four International Boxing
Federation world champions – mini flyweight Nkosinathi Joyi, flyweight Moruti Mthalane, junior featherweight Takalani Ndlovu and first female champion and welterweight Noni Tenge – could be lost to local boxing.

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