Women’s boxing blues

2013-07-07 14:00

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Main challenges are funds and the small number of licensed professionals

It’s six years since women’s boxing went professional in South Africa, but they still don’t fight often enough.

Three top South African female gladiators, Noni Tenge, Unathi Myekeni and Gabisile Tshabalala took to the ring last month, with only Tenge emerging victorious.

Tshabalala and Myekeni suffered their first professional defeats.

Prior to blemishing their records, the pair had not boxed in a long time, with the former not having fought in 15 months and the latter inactive for six months.

According to Boxing SA (BSA) director of operations Loyiso Mtya, the lack of fight time for women was derailing the growth and development of professional women’s boxing.

“Inaction remains a challenge. That is because of a lack of funds and the small number of licensed female boxers in the country,” said Mtya. He said women were dragging their feet in “taking up boxing as a career, and producing only two world champions bears testimony to that”.

There were scores of female boxers training in all the country’s gyms, but only for fitness purposes, he said.

Only 39 female boxers are registered with BSA, the majority of whom come from Limpopo. There are none from Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape.

Domestic competitors struggle to find credible opponents and the exorbitant cost of bringing boxers from abroad makes finding competitors difficult.

Mtya said BSA was doing its best to remedy the situation “but with our dire financial situation, we face difficulties getting projects that address this problem”.

South Africa’s top trainer, Nick Durandt, who has only one female boxer in his stable, said the challenges faced by women’s boxing are because “it does not make business sense and there’s no big money in it”.

This he attributed to women’s boxing still being new and not appealing to a wide audience.

“It’s not only a South African problem, but worldwide. Have you seen a female bout headline a big event?” he asked. He, however, challenged promoters to drive the agenda of women’s boxing.

Mtya called on government to provide the funds to develop these athletes further.

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