Johannesburg - As the Boxing SA (BSA) board’s three-year term of office comes to an end next month, chairperson Muditambi Ravele believes they’ve done so well that they deserve to be given an extended tenure by the new minister of sport, Thembelani Nxesi.
Ravele’s seven-member board – which includes Dr Malefetsane Peter Ngatane, Advocate Mzamo Alfred Gumbi, Zandile Matilda Kabini, Khulile Radu, Mandisinde Zoyisile Gcilitsana and Luthando Jack – are expected to give way to a new committee.
But the chairperson is optimistic that, despite the challenges that she and her team have faced since taking over the reins in 2014, they have restored the dignity of professional boxing in the country through their efficient administration.
Since Ravele officially took charge in 2014 after serving on a temporary basis a year earlier, BSA has experienced several administrative challenges. These included the organisation going through several court cases, which involved former chief executive Moffat Qithi being suspended in 2013 and subsequently sacked in 2015 for, among other things, not declaring that he had a criminal record before he assumed his position at BSA. This was after advocate Sicelo Mthethwa recommended that Qithi be fired by the boxing body.
Other court cases that pinned the administration against the ropes was the deadlock with promoter Branco Milenkovic regarding the SABC’s failure to broadcast fights, and promoters Dicksy Ngqula, Siphatho Handi and Andile Sidinile’s failure to pay boxers.
Ngqula failed to pay R1.6 million owed to four boxers – Xolisani “Nomeva” Ndongeni (R1 million) and Mabhuti “Macman” Sinyabi, Toto Helebe and Makazole Tete (R200 000 each) – for taking part in the Premier Boxing League in East London in 2015.
Handi did not settle the accounts of Eastern Cape fighters, their Filipino opponents and officials for fights he staged in East London in March 2015. He owed the pugilists R800 000. Handi was found guilty and had his promoter’s licence suspended for a year.
Sidinile was instructed by BSA’s lawyers to recover R552 000 he owed four fighters in purse money for a tournament that took place at the Orient Theatre last April. The pugilists are Simpiwe “V12” Vetyeka, Xolisani “Nomeva” Ndongeni and Luzuko Siyo.
Ravele said that, although the current board faced challenges, they had made significant progress under her leadership.
“We may have experienced administrative problems before, but I can proudly say that, under my leadership, for the first time in the history of professional boxing in the country, BSA has managed to establish the National Boxing Indaba, where we and the department of sport meet all stakeholders in all provinces and deal with issues pertaining to boxing,” said Ravele.
She said that when the board took control, BSA was running without an effective layer of senior management.
“When the new board was appointed, we didn’t have a chief executive or a head of finance. Close to 50 staff positions were terminated. We are now a well-oiled machine that is running boxing very well. The current board should be retained in the next term,” said Ravele.
She said the progress made by BSA was remarkable because they still had a full board at the end of their term.
“We have a stable organisation with a full staff complement. We have also upgraded the position of financial manager to chief financial officer in compliance with recommendations from the Auditor-General.”
She said the appointment of Cindy Nkomo as operations director had added serious muscle to the organisation.
“This is the first time that we have a female in a top management position in our operation. I’m proud of that.”
Ravele does not hide her elation at the fact that the sport has made a return to live TV broadcasts on SABC’s Boxing is Back series.
She says BSA had an effect by taking “quality fights back to the people”, as fights were taking place in several provinces.
But one can argue that the move to bring live boxing back to living rooms was facilitated by the department of sport under former minister Fikile Mbalula. He also played a pivotal role by ushering in a new era in the sport with the announcement of the BSA appointments of Tsholofelo Lejaka as chief executive and Thabang Moses as chief financial officer.
The beleaguered governing body also received a crucial R11 million financial injection from the department to cover administration costs.
Lejaka has performed a sterling job in restoring the image of the professional boxing body.
Chief director in charge of marketing at the department of sport, Mickey Modisane, said Nxesi had not yet met sports federations, but was being briefed on all sport-related matters by Deputy Minister Gert Oosthuizen and director-general Alec Moemi.
City Press spoke to a number of boxing stakeholders, who offered differing views on how Ravele and her colleagues had performed in attempting to revitalise the ailing sport.
Dream Team Promotions boss Lebo Mahoko said the board had done well during its term and deserved another chance.
“They managed to bring back the live televising of boxing. Before then, there was a blackout and, under Muditambi’s guidance, they managed to ensure that boxing is back on our screens,” said Mahoko.
Anton Gilmore of Gilmore Masters Promotions said the BSA’s administration had been “very poor.
“Boxers never got paid their purses on time as the BSA allowed some promoters to deposit money into the organisation’s account at a late stage, and sometimes even after tournaments.”
Trainer Norman Hlabane said: “BSA has killed boxing because it gives certain boxers fights, while others don’t see any action at all. This is destroying the sport.”