Promoters back trainers but funds a problem

Bongani Magasela

Bongani Magasela

Promoter Branco Milenkovic supports black trainers who complained bitterly about the insufficient airtime that is allocated to boxing by the SABC on its boxing programme.

But he differed slightly with their notion that this has caused the exodus of their fighters to white trainers because it hindered them from securing sponsorship deals.

"Firstly, I want to say that I hope what Sizwe Nzimande said will happen. Secondly, we as promoters are also having difficulties in securing sponsorships.

"We get asked one question over and over again every time we make a presentation - the length of time on TV - and it's not easy to answer appropriately," said the Serbian, who works exclusively with SABC.

Milenkovic said viewers also wanted to watch a lot of fights, not just one. SABC broadcasts main fights only while undercards are canned for the midnight repeats.

In the United States, boxing enjoys massive publicity on HBO, Showtime and ESPN while the British have Sky and ITV, and the Germans have RSL. These are TV networks dedicated to boxing.

This can also happen with SABC but it won't because Boxing South Africa's chairman, Dali Mpofu, who is the group chief executive of SABC, seemingly does not have the interest of the noble art of boxing at heart.

Mpofu could not be reached for comment.

On the issue of boxers leaving black-owned gyms, Milenkovic said it happens all over the world.

"Whether they have or do not have sponsors they leave whenever they want to," he said.

Most boxers locally flock to the stable of trainer Nick Durandt, which boasts 54 professional fighters.

But Durandt felt unfairly targeted because no mention was made of boxers from the gyms of fellow trainers Manny Fernandez, Mzimase Mnguni, Stanley Ndlovu and Harold Volbrecht, who also have sponsors.

"I would turn down a boxer who joins my gym because he wants to be a billboard. They come to me because they want to be champions. I produce them.

"This is all what this industry is all about," said Durandt, whose gym boasts eight South African champions, five world champions and the same number of WBC international title holders.

On the issue of his fighters sometimes dominating boxing programmes Durandt said fights do not get offered to him while he sits on his backside.

"I go out and look for jobs for my fighters because they pay me to do that. Other guys are getting paid for managing boxers' careers. But what do they do?"

Some trainers who double as managers have found solace from Dingaan Thobela who pays fighters for wearing the colours of his Rose Funeral Services.