My Title, My Pride - by Loyiso Mtja

The practice of giving championship belts to title holders in South Africa dates back to the 1940’s. This championship system is intended to reward pugilists who, by satisfying rigid criteria, can justify a claim as the true and only South African champion in a given weight division. The defence of this prestigious South African title has habitually proven to be an equally overwhelming occurrence for title holders.

The significance of title holders defending their titles three times a year, which provides them more exposure, experience, activity and fundamentally adding value to the South African title belts cannot be over accentuated. This is what Boxing SA has decided to enforce from now on.

Our yesteryear champions, Vic Toweel, Gerrie Coetzee, Welcome Ncita, Brian Mitchell, Jacob Matlala, Vuyani Bungu, Dingaan Thobela, Lehlohonolo Ledwaba, to cite but a few, will concur to the feeling of pride and delight at being named a champion after an exacting contest.

Allow me to also take you down memory lane, a short one to be more precise as I vividly remember the ecstatic and joyful tears rolling down Gideon Buthelezi’s face after winning the South African mini flyweight title against Jonas Kgasago on May 30, 2008.

‘Iyahamba lenqwelo’ (this vehicle is in motion); the future of South African boxing in the likes Thabiso Mchunu, Hekkie Budler, Bongani Mwelase, Noni Tenge, Nkosinathi Joyi, amongst others, are our champions who will undoubtedly enjoy the fruits of defending their titles for an accepted number of times as the 90 days defence regulation is adhered to. One cannot ignore but only admire the hunger and desire of our boxers to lift up and defend the South African Championship belt.

Now, this brings me to the central theme of this editorial.

In the most recent years, South African boxing has endured a tremendous deterioration in the number of title defences staged; therefore, confining title holders to one or not any title defences in a year.

The lessened activity of champions immeasurably impacts negatively on the respective divisions, thus creating less or no movement at all in the ratings.

Conventionally, Boxing SA would afford Promoters the leeway of first securing a television date at which the title bout will be staged. However, having carefully studied the state of affairs, Boxing SA is not persuaded that same is tantamount to a fullyfledged and well-reasoned rationale to diverge from the Boxing Act and its regulations. It also needs to be stated that the said situation is progressively killing the championship process, as title holders would defend based on availability of TV dates. Consequently, there is not only an escalation in the number of inactive boxers, but the entire division suffers because of same.

As contemplated by the South African Boxing Act, 2001 (Act No.11 of 2001), a title holder may make a voluntary title defence against any of the rated boxers on Boxing SA’s rating list, subject to the challenge being approved by Boxing SA in writing.

The title holder shall make appropriate arrangements with a promoter to stage the fight not later than 90 days after the date of approval of such challenge. If the title holder does not fight within the 90 day period, for whatever reason, the option of a title holder to make a voluntary defence shall automatically fall away; thus constituting a mandatory defence.

It is, therefore, in light of the aforementioned that Boxing SA will enforce the defence regulation both on voluntary and mandatory defences whether there is a TV date or not. This will see title holders being active and defending their titles no less than three times a year.

Boxing SA also wishes to advise that promoters can apply to SABC and SuperSport to record and show their fights at a later time. Boxing SA pledges its effective and reasonable assistance in this regard. A circular has been sent to all licensees to advise them of this undertaking which will take effect as of 1 July 2010.