Bring our boxers back home

THREE days after being elected chairman of the Gauteng Promoters Association (GPA), Mxolisi Gumede has appealed for unity among all stakeholders.

THREE days after being elected chairman of the Gauteng Promoters Association (GPA), Mxolisi Gumede has appealed for unity among all stakeholders.

"United we stand, separated we fall," Gumede said.

This former professional fighter, now a promoter for Ethembeni Promotions, said: "Our game is at a low, so low that you don't get the same interest from youngsters.

"Our predecessors popularised boxing, and we contributed. Some of our black trainers had to close shop because their boxers defected to gymnasiums in suburbs. That has dampened the spirit of black trainers."

Gumede, who won the Transvaal and national lightweight belts under Solly Selebi in Meadowlands, questioned the lack of brotherhood in the sport.

"If it was genuine, people with resources would have helped those trainers who don't have, and their boxers would have stayed.

"Boxers go to those gyms in town simply because owners have connections in the corporate world, so sponsorship is guaranteed. Importantly, the blame must be put squarely on some promoters who are alleged to have influenced boxers to leave their trainers or managers.

"Soweto, as huge as it is, has a handful of gyms. I don't want to talk about Tembisa, KwaThema and the Vaal. Pretoria produced top-name fighters including Fransie Badenhorst but what is happening there now?"

Gumede said the brotherhood he spoke of existed at the height of apartheid.

"It allowed white fighters like Brian Mitchell and Martin Botes to prosper. They fought most of their fights in black townships. Botes ended up being trained in Soweto and earned the nickname 'Soweto'," he said.

Mitchell never fought against a local white fighter. The "Mean Machine" went on to win the WBA and IBF junior lightweight titles. He retired undefeated as the WBA and IBF holder in 1995.

Gumede was elected on Sunday. Other committee members are Allan Young, Gavin Hope, Paul Tshehla and Reggie Hilman.

Gumede said he had never retired as a boxer but "my licence was revoked unjustly in 1996 by Peter Ngatane, then head of the SA National Boxing Control Commission".

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