An unstable relationship between the local professional boxing fraternity and the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality has seen professional boxing in Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape take a nosedive.

The Nelson Mandela Bay region recently hosted the National Boxing Awards in Port Elizabeth. During the awards not a single local boxer made it to the nominees. The local boxing fraternity have attributed the absence of local nominees in the awards to lack of professional boxing matches and support from the municipality.

The Nelson Mandela Bay, which is made up of Uitenhage, Despatch and Port Elizabeth, used to be a mecca of boxing with Nangoza Jebe Hall, formerly known as Centenary Hall, being the breeding ground for upcoming local boxers. In the past, the region produced champions like Uitenhage-based Vuyani Nene and Mzukisi Skali and hosted boxers like former World Champion, the late Baby Jake Matlala.

The lack of activity has been attributed to lack of support from the municipality. Boxing Promoter Sibongile Nkebe says they have been submitting proposals for funding to the municipality, but in vain. Nkebe says it seems the municipality is focusing its support in amateur boxing.

According to boxing trainer, Caiphus Ntante, the inactivity of local professional boxers contributes to unemployment as boxers cannot challenge for championship if they are dropped from the top 10 lists of boxers within a particular division. Ntante says two of his boxers lost their ratings as they are inactive and were dropped from the top 10.

Money driven

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality says its focus is on development and professional boxing is more money-driven. The municipality says it is looking at a long-term goal of developing boxing, and not a once-off professional boxing tournament. But it has extended its hand to the local boxing fraternity to find an amicable solution.

Nelson Mandela Bay spokesperson, Kupido Baron, says, “We sponsored an event for professional boxing worth R600 000 and what we said is listen, what you need to do now is use this money to get sponsors to come on board as well and use the set capital to develop for future events as well.

“And at that stage, we did not get the desired results because afterward the professional boxing fraternity came back and asked for more money. We wanted them to become sustainable and that did not happen. However, the invitation is open. Come to us. Let us work on a plan on a long term basis to develop boxing in Nelson Mandela Bay and do not exclude the amateur side of boxing.”

The Nelson Mandela Bay region has close to 100 professionally registered boxers. This includes promoters, managers and trainers.