State to spend R20m to floor boxing promoter

2013-11-10 14:00

The department of sport and recreation has set aside R20 million in a mission to

KO promoter Branco Milenkovic in the TV rights interdict he instituted against Boxing SA (BSA).

According to City Press’ sister publication, Die Burger, the cash will fund a 15-member legal team to represent BSA in the matter.

The team comprises three senior counsel, four advocates and eight attorneys.

“We will fight for what is good. The fight is worth it because it’s a fight for the benefit of the boxer,” Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula told City Press this week.

Milenkovic hit back, accusing the department of misusing public funds.

“It’s disappointing that R20 million of taxpayers’ money will be used for a personal agenda against my promotions company (Branco Sport Productions) and our boxers.

“This is while the Soweto Marathon was cancelled because of a lack of funds and other sporting codes like swimming are struggling financially.”

The promoter took BSA to court last year in an attempt to prohibit it from obtaining sole TV broadcasting rights from the SABC.

Promoters say broadcast rights should rest with them as that is how it has always been. Mbalula’s department told Parliament last month that BSA should have these rights.

The matter is yet to be heard but boxers have already become the biggest losers, as their purses have shrunk considerably since the TV blackout began in 2010.

Mbalula said: “The union for the boxers is government. They cannot speak for themselves because then they risk losing contracts [with promoters], but we know for a fact they are exploited.”

The minister accused those opposed to his department’s R20 million case of “being mischievous, spreading hogwash and being out of touch with reality”.

Mzameni Mdakane, the chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on sport, supported Mbalula.

“It’s not about the amount. If the state doesn’t defend the interests of the societies, of which BSA is one, who will?” he asked.

The committee has suggested the minister be granted powers to intervene in sports federation disputes.

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