Already there are too few opportunities for professional fighters

Boxing graduation process for 2021 suspended

Thabiso Mchunu is a product of the Baby Champs programme. He will soon contest for the WBC cruiserweight title.
MOVING UP: Thabiso Mchunu is a product of the Baby Champs programme. He will soon contest for the WBC cruiserweight title.
Image: GALLO IMAGES/ STEVE HAAG

Regular calls to suspend the graduation of amateur boxers to the sport's professional ranks have been answered, albeit due to unexpected reasons.

Boxing SA said the 2021 graduation would be suspended due to the limited number of tournaments, which have been further reduced by the arrival of the coronavirus.

“Boxing SA, in consultation with the Sanabo (SA National Boxing Organisation) interim structure, has decided to suspend the 2021 provincial sparring sessions which would have taken place in February and March 2021,” a statement from the regulatory body reads.

The decision was taken because a backlog of boxers who graduated this year were unable to get fights after tournaments were suspended due to Covid-19.

About 185 boxers graduated this year across the country, but not one has been able to get a fight in the professional ranks.

While suspension due to Covid-19 has been cited as a reason, boxing stakeholders have consistently lamented that boxers are left without guarantees of activity in the paid ranks after their annual graduation.

Covid has decimated the number of tournaments across the country, with the Eastern Cape the hardest hit.

There are only two world-class promoters in the province: Rumble Africa Promotions and Xaba Promotions, whose schedules are loaded with their own boxers.

Since discontinuation of the Baby Champs programme, which guaranteed newly graduated boxers some activity, many aspirant fighters have fallen on hard times.

The programme, hailed as an effective development initiative, pitted newly graduated boxers against each other on an elimination basis, giving rise to a blossoming of boxing talent across the country.

The programme produced talented boxers who went on to dominate the SA boxing landscape, including Macbute Sinyabi of Mdantsane, Unathi Jacobs of Port Elizabeth and Thabiso Mchunu of KwaZulu-Natal.

Eastern Cape Amateur Boxing Organisation (Ecabo) president Vido Mtekwana does not approve of the annual flood of amateur boxers into the professional ranks.

“Once these boys graduate we cannot feature them anymore in our amateur championships, and when they do not get activity in the professional ranks they resort to unholy activities such as crime and drugs,” he said.

BSA said they would use the break to try to consolidate working relations with the amateur interim structure.

“This break will give us time to engage on this subject as well as to develop a more structured and clearly defined working relationship for the future, which seeks to add value to the pipeline between the two federations,” BSA said.

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