Durandt slams state of boxing

2012-03-13 19:31

Johannesburg - Prominent South African boxing trainer Nick Durandt was emotional on Tuesday as he bemoaned the dire state of South African boxing.

"If anyone tells you that boxing in South Africa is in a healthy state, they are bull*****ing you," said Durandt, who has dedicated a quarter of a century to the sport, and has trained a host of local world champions including Sugar Boy Malinga and Phillip Ndou.

"Who am I to give hope to youngsters when I can't deliver and my promoters can't deliver?" he asked.

"The boxing standards, and seemingly sponsorship and television coverage interest, have dropped significantly from where they were in the three preceding decades," he said.

"Even the national broadcaster, the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), has little interest in the sport while satellite pay channel SuperSport covers a few events."

Durandt's fighter Jeffrey Mathebula will challenge Gert Strydom's fighter Takalani Ndlovu for the IBF super welterweight belt challenge in Brakpan next Friday.

A rematch between the two talented fighters, it will be part of a bill dubbed "African Glory 2".

The fight's promoter Branco Milenkovic has been at loggerheads with the SABC over its lack of coverage of IBF fights.

"We need the SABC on board for the public to see the children of the soil," Durandt said.

"I think it has been a year since they last showed live boxing."

Durandt's gripe is that South African boxing milestones do not get as much recognition as other codes.

"We have won more things than the Springboks and Bafana Bafana, yet we are the black sheep of television," he said.

"People want to know why our fighters fail to defend titles. It's because we don't have the support.

"It's because we go to places like Panama where there are 18 000 hostile people at ring side and officials are under pressure when making decisions."

However, the Gauteng sports department has been supportive of boxing in the region.

"There is a role that government can play. The sports indaba has adopted strategies going forward," said Gauteng sport MEC Lebogang Maile.

"Yes, the public broadcaster does have a role to play and can take some responsibility," he said.

"We also need the private sector to come around knowing that it is not just about the mileage they will get, but also contributing towards the development of the sport."