‘They are trying to drive me to crime’

2011-12-04 09:30

Boxing South Africa (BSA) is denying some boxers the means to make a living.

This allegation was made by former World Boxing Union junior middleweight and Commonwealth super- middleweight champion Ruben Groenewald after BSA insisted that his licence remain revoked on grounds of ill health.

His licence was rescinded 11 months ago as Groenewald (34) suffers from asthma. BSA followed doctors’ advice in taking this action.

“Boxers like myself will be lured into crime if BSA continues treating us unfairly,” said an infuriated Groenewald.

Contrary to BSA’s assertions, the boxer argued that he was declared fit by the organisation’s doctors.

“I was tested and told that I was fit by BSA’s doctors but my licence was surprisingly seized,” said Groenewald, adding he had no documentary proof as his fitness had been confirmed verbally.

“Amazingly, boxers like Flo Simba (who has been diagnosed with diabetes) are allowed to fight regardless of the state of their health.

“I am being denied an opportunity to earn a living, and unfairly treated boxers like myself will be tempted to become criminals for money’s sake,” he said.

The boxer said he read that his licence had been annulled in a newspaper and had not received official notification.

Asked why he was complaining now, almost a year later, he said he has been battling for reinstatement and was now weighing up legal options.

“When I enquired from BSA about the newspaper report, all they told me was that I will no longer fight,” said Groenewald.

Comparing himself to Simba, he said “all boxers should be treated fairly”.

BSA director of operations Loyiso Mtya was angry when told about Groenewald’s allegations.

“I am not prepared to discuss this issue further because we have been advised by our doctors that Groenewald should not box due to unfitness,” he said, adding that BSA had a letter to that effect. But he could not provide City Press with a copy of the letter, citing doctor-patient confidentiality.

“Flo Simba’s issue is a separate one as doctors never declared him unfit to fight, while doctors declared Groenewald unfit to fight.”

Groenewald pointed out that he was surprised his licence had been revoked due to asthma, because it was first diagnosed when he was a teenager.
“I went on to win national, international and world titles in the amateur and paid ranks long after being diagnosed.”

He has had 35 professional battles, winning 23 (10 on knockouts), losing nine and drawing three.

Groenewald said he felt frustrated because he had received “lucrative fight offers from Germany”.

He vowed to “fight to the bitter end to make certain that I am reinstated”.

Groenewald’s last fight was almost a year ago. He was knocked out in his last two bouts by Thabiso Mchunu (round 4) and Daniel Bruwer (round 8).
He was immediately declared unfit to box after doctors verified that he was asthmatic following his defeat at Bruwer’s hands.

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