Foreign-fighter incident sparks Boxing Act debate

Boxing South Africa (BSA) has seemingly violated its regulations by sanctioning a foreign fighter, Balemo Weliya, to fight for a South African title.

But BSA acting chief executive Loyiso Mtya attributed this to different interpretations of the 2001 Boxing Act, which he said was not clear.

Mtya also agreed that this incident beefed up calls for the act to be amended.

Weliya, who is from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), first fought for the vacant national light heavyweight crown against Rupert van Aswegen in March.

He is now scheduled to fight for the Eastern Cape provincial title against Ayanda Nongena in Queenstown on Saturday.

The act stipulates that a contestant for a national or provincial title shall:

» Be registered as a boxer;

» ?Be a South African citizen; and

» ?Be a permanent resident of the Republic for a continuous period of not less than five years, immediately preceding the championship contest.

Ronnie Mamoepa, spokesperson for Home Affairs, confirmed that Weliya did not have South African citizenship.
“The boxer is a refugee. He was born in the DRC,” he said.

Weliya’s manager, Elliot Mjele, said: “How can you want to have an interview with the boxer without his manager.

If there is no manager, no interview.”

Initially, Mtya said the Weliya-Nongena fight had “not come to BSA and was still a planned tournament”.

But when City Press referred to Weliya’s fight against Van Aswegen, Mtya said the DRC boxer had been in the country for longer than five years.

Weliya’s first fight in South Africa was in October 2006.

“A boxer does not have to meet all three (Boxing Act) requirements; he only needs to fulfil one. At the same time, how many boxers do we have in the country who can compete in that division?” asked Mtya.

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