Nonina decries lack of BSA support for female boxers

Matshidiso Mokebisi of the Free State battles it out with Bukiwe Nonina of Limpopo.
Matshidiso Mokebisi of the Free State battles it out with Bukiwe Nonina of Limpopo.
Image: GALLO IMAGES/ SYDNEY SESHIBEDI

The death of South African female boxing champion Leighandre “Baby Lee” Jegels, who was gunned down by her police officer boyfriend in Mdantsane last August,  is a significant reminder for this Women’s Month, says Bukiwe “Anaconda” Nonina.

Boxing SA enforces that most tournaments held in SA during August must be dominated by women, from officiating to the action in the ring.

This is how Boxing SA demonstrates its support for the cause — a tribute to 20,000 women who marched to the Union Buildings on August 9 1956 to protest against the extension of pass laws to women.

Nonina, the former South Africa and WBF bantamweight champion, would have fought for the IBF belt in April, but as a result of the coronavirus the fight was cancelled.

Even so, Nonina said the pandemic was no excuse.

To be honest with you, if it was not for the death of Baby Lee this month last year, I would have forgotten that it’s August, because it is not like it is guaranteed that we fight every August to honour Women’s Month

“To be honest with you, if it was not for the death of Baby Lee this month last year, I would have forgotten that it’s August, because it is not like it is guaranteed that we fight every August to honour Women’s Month,” said Nonina, whose achievements helped her win Boxing SA’s Female Boxer of the Year Award back-to-back in 2016 and 2017.

Jegels, 25, from East London, had a protection order against the boyfriend when he shot her in the face in her car.

The policeman, who shot and injured the boxer’s mother in the same incident, died a few days later from injuries he sustained in a car accident just hours after killing Jegels.

“You are lucky to get that one fight in August,” Nonina said.

“The truth is that many boxing promoters seem not to like women boxing. Even those promoters who get government grants to stage fights have not been keen to include female fighters in their tournaments.”

Former BSA chair Muditambi Ravele was successful in enforcing that practice but all her efforts have gone down the drain.

“Even the treatment is not the same between us and male boxers,” Nonina said.

BSA made promises that there would be changes but the only change was the board members. Even the current board members are doing nothing at all for us [women]

“BSA made promises that there would be changes but the only change was the board members. Even the current board members are doing nothing at all for us [women].

“A simple phone call from them to check on us during lockdown would have meant a lot.”

Nonina said life was tough for female boxers in SA.

“You know, one female boxer asked me to buy her toiletries and luckily my partner transferred some money to her.

“Others have already been kicked out of their flats because they cannot afford to pay rent.

“Don’t be surprised to hear that some boxers are doing crime or have become prostitutes, because we must all survive.”

She said she was lucky to have her family, partner, promoters Elias and Fanakhe Tshabalala, and promoter Joyce Kungwane by her side. — SowetanLIVE


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