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It's all pain

By unknown | Dec 22, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Bongani Magasela

Bongani Magasela

The purse money that was shared two weeks ago by Manny Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya has paved way for a debate regarding what local fighters are paid. The two fighters shared R1 billion.

Pacquiao, who stopped De La Hoya in the eighth round, took home 40 percent while the latter earned 60 percent simply because their fight was presented by his promotion.

Big name fighters such as Pacquiao, De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather, Benard Hopkins and many more others live large in mansions, have their own fleets of posh cars and their bank balances are fat.

That is a fantasy for South African fighters.

Now a number of genuine fight fans called this newspaper a week after the capaciously publicised fight between Pacquiao and De La Hoya, all asking almost a similar question: "Can boxing here take our boxers out of shacks into affluent areas Dainfern, Houghton or Bassonia?"

Not any Tom, Dick and Harry can afford a house in those suburbs.

Theoretically boxing here can and should take a boxer to that area but it is not doing so and it does not even give a glimmer of hope that it will in the near future.

Fighters have the tendency to paint a wrong picture about themselves - they wear chains, dress in designer labels and some drive expensive cars.

The truth is all that glitters is not gold. It is not their fault. They are ignorant and that is why they easily become victims of exploitation. Basically they do not know their rights.

This bloody sport is used for entertainment. It may also create a revenue stream from stud fees, admission fees and gambling.

Promoters make millions from government, television, sponsors and casinos yet they selfishly pay fighters peanuts.

Boxing SA cannot say anything. It's a matter between a boxer's manager and his promoter.

Mind you some boxers are not part of those negotiations. They are just told where to sign. In reality, it should the other way round.

That is why I humbly request the government to institute a commission of inquiry into this sport.

Provincial governments should be investigated thoroughly as well. They pour millions of rands into the pockets of promoters who in turn do not better the purse monies boxers get paid in those tournaments.

There are also discrepancies regarding purse monies. White boxers are richly rewarded. The only time a black boxer will be paid a better purse is when that fighter is either under a white trainer or he is being used as cannon fodder.

But there are a few black fighters who, despite that inequality, can be used as examples of a rags-to-riches story.

They are Dingaan Thobela, Baby Jake Matlala and Lehlohonolo Ledwaba. They live in Kelvin, Winchester and Mondeor respectively.

Kelvin is too lowly a suburb for Thobela, the man whose victories brought traffic into a standstill throughout this country.

He was hero-worshiped across the colour line.

The good life should also be a associated with the likes of Welcome Ncita, Vuyani Bungu and Mbulelo Botile. Sadly, it is not.

Bungu holds a South African record for making 13 defences of a world title (an IBF junior featherweight belt) but he is down and out financially.

Brian Mitchell made 12 defences. By the way, he lives in Bassonia.

I was informed reliably that Bungu's mansion is for sale, and also that his largely publicised marriage has collapsed. Attempts to get him were fruitless.

He works for Mzimase Mnguni as a trainer at the latter's famed Eyethu Boxing gym in Mdantsane.

The Botile situation is a "masterpiece".

This former IBF bantamweight champion who made five defences, made headlines globally in 2000 when he almost killed English hope Paul Ingle for the IBF featherweight belt in the UK.

Ingle went down in rounds 11 and 12. He remained on the canvas for several minutes before being removed from the ring on a stretcher.

Ingle was rushed to hospital where he underwent a two-and-a-half-hour operation to remove a blood clot from the brain. He recovered but was never allowed to box again.

Though he continued fighting Botile is a penniless drunkard who lives somewhere in Duncan Village.

This is what Thobela, Matlala, Ledwaba and Baloyi had to say when asked if boxing here can take a boxer out of a shack into a a mansion.

l Thobela:

"Highly impossible because the price alone of a house in Bassonia or Dainfern is exuberant. For a boxer here to stay there will be questionable unless that fighter has other means of generating cash. I would be living there had I been paid what I deserved."

l Matlala: "Yes, but only if that boxer is a WBC, WBA or IBF champion with few defences. A South African champion must just forget it."

l Ledwaba: "No. That is far from happening. With us black boxers it's a hand-to-mouth existence. What used to happen before still happens even today - that is only one boxer out of 20 is successful. Paqcuiao rose to fame by winning my title, I mean, I should have been paid decently for that fight."

For the record, Ledwaba is based in Bloemfontein where he trains up-and-coming fighters whose careers are guided by promoter Blacky Seoe.

l Baloyi: "Never. Purse monies are meagre. We are also paying too much tax."

Baloyi, six-time world champion, holds the IBF junior lightweight belt. He lives in Yeoville where he owns a flat.

Can you believe that Thomas Mashaba, a former IBO super bantam and featherweight holder, is still a locomotive driver in a mine?

So what are our fighters' chances of invading Dainfern, Bassonia, Houghton and many more affluent suburbs?

I take my leave.


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