South Africa

Boxing back on TV soon, Mbalula promises

2015-05-20 21:26
Fikile Mbalula (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Professional boxing will be back on SABC TV channels from next month, sports minister Fikile Mbalula has said on Wednesday, ahead of presenting his budget vote in Parliament.

He said the only reason the sport had not been televised was because he had been unable to settle "issues" out of court, presumably referring to an impasse with promoter Branco Milenkovic.

"If we are stopped, we will be stopped by the courts, but we are going ahead with the first broadcast of professional boxing," Mbalula told journalists.

He said broadcasting matches, especially on SABC as "the biggest platform", played a major role in benefiting boxers.

Nobody wanted to put their money behind a product that was not televised.

"We went to the Boxing Indaba, we agreed on boxing rights… the question of the broadcasting rights has been a thorny issue in boxing because what we want as government is fairness for the boxer and promoter."

He said in this particular instance, the money purse was concealed from the boxer who received "peanuts" from the bouts.

"Young people get into boxing and turn professional, not only to box but to make money."

He said both boxers and promoters could make a lot of money, but he would not allow boxers to be exploited.

"I’ve explored means of engaging outside of court.

"It doesn’t work because those who are going to court don’t want to settle," he said, adding the matter was sub judice.

"I have gone to court with a certain promoter in South Africa and I am defending and I am not going to compromise on that going forward."

In 2012, Boxing SA instructed the public broadcaster not to negotiate directly with promoters and claimed ownership of broadcasting rights.

City Press newspaper reported that the decision unsettled Milenkovic, who began litigation on the grounds that the BSA’s actions were "unlawful and uncommon".

It reported that Milenkovic’s lawyers stated in a letter to Mbalula last month that the promoter was not to blame for the stalemate and that he had offered the SABC the opportunity to televise certain fights in the last five years, but this had fallen "on deaf ears", forcing him to take boxers abroad to fight.

Read more on:    fikile mbalula  |  boxing

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