Sport

Has BSA pulled its belt in too tight?

2016-05-31 07:00

The days of national boxing champions not being awarded championship belts for winning title fights will soon become a thing of the past.

The sports department will over the next month unveil a sponsor, which will fund new belts to enable titleholders to have something to be proud of for their efforts in the ring.

This will be done with a view to reviving the high standards set by a brewing and beverage company before it withdrew its sponsorship of the treasured Old Buck belts in 2008 after 40 years.

The company’s withdrawal left a void that could only be filled if the regulatory body, Boxing SA (BSA), found alternative manufacturers
for the belts of all 17 weight divisions.

Many titleholders criticised the current BSA symbol because they had not received their trophy as they are in short supply.

Many newly crowned champions have had to endure the embarrassment of posing with makeshift belts after winning the title, unlike in the past, when they were able to keep the status symbol after winning their
fight.

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula believes the problem will soon be solved: “As a department, we are aware of the situation and are in negotiations with a potential sponsor for the belts.

“Our fighters will soon have top-notch belts, just like they used to have before. Watch this space.”

The Razzmatazz said titleholders would in future be honoured for their efforts, as in the past.

Another problem is that the current BSA belts are regarded by fighters as being of poor quality and not befitting the stature of a national titleholder. They are decorated with cheap zinc as opposed to gold, which was used in previous years.

During the golden era, titleholders were allowed to keep their trophy after making three successful defences outright. To show the value of their prize, fighters were also awarded
the belts for winning world
titles.

Peter “Terror” Mathebula became the country’s first black fighter to win the World Boxing Association flyweight title after beating South Korean Tae-Shik Kim in Los Angeles on points in 1980.

Mathebula was awarded the prized ornament, which he unfortunately sold a few years later as he claimed he was broke.

Many current national champions do not have belts as a result of the BSA’s lack of sufficient funds to fund them.

After beating Deon Coetzee for the South African cruiserweight crown at Emperors Palace, Kempton Park, in July last year, Kevin Lerena had to pose in the ring with a belt that belonged to national super middleweight champion Peter Mashamaite.

“It’s not nice to be a champion with no belt to show. I’m still waiting for my belt, even today,” said Lerena.

Grant Fourie beat Warren Joubert by a unanimous points decision to lift the national super lightweight diadem on the same card.

Fourie also did not receive the honours from BSA for his trouble inside the square jungle.

“I posed with somebody else’s belt after being declared the winner. Hopefully, things will be fine when BSA gets a new sponsor.”

Macbute “Macman” Sinyabi outpointed Oscar Chauke at the Orient Theatre in November to become the national featherweight champ. He also did not get anything for winning.

Sinyabi previously held the national super bantamweight crown, which he defended successfully six times. He was therefore able to keep his belt.

Sinyabi says he is keeping his fingers crossed that he will receive something following his last win.

“I’ve been told by BSA that they no longer have belts for champs. This is bad because I won’t have anything to show my grandchildren when I’m old.”

BSA chairperson Muditambi Ravele said the supply of new belts would hopefully augur well for future titleholders.

“This will push the standard of professional boxing to the top, to where it was before the television blackout,” she said.

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October 13 2019