Ravele a shining light in female fistic sport

Boxing South Africa chairlady Muditambi Ravele during the SABC, Department of Sports and Recreation and Gauteng Provincial Government announcement of the return of Boxing on SABC held at M1 studios.
Boxing South Africa chairlady Muditambi Ravele during the SABC, Department of Sports and Recreation and Gauteng Provincial Government announcement of the return of Boxing on SABC held at M1 studios.
Image: Mabuti Kali. © Sunday World

Muditambi "Ntambi" Ravele - the first female to be chairwoman of Boxing SA - refuses to take credit for being the inspiration to many women who have since joined the male-dominated sport.

Others have become ring officials, promoters and professional boxers.

The fight fraternity is enjoying non-stop action around the country this month as female promoters are staging "Women Only" tournaments around the country to celebrate Women's Month.

Those female promoters - chosen by BSA through a tender process - are being assisted financially by BSA and provincial governments.

Before 2001 there was no professional female boxing in SA.

Female boxer Sandra Almeida ended up going to New Zealand to make her professional debut without permission from BSA.

The first "Women Only" tourney in SA took place in Durban in 2006.

It was from that tournament that some women, including Noni Tenge and Unathi Myekeni, made their professional debuts. They would go on to become world champions. Tenge from Mdantsane remains the only SA professional boxer to have won four world titles in two weight divisions. Almeida holds the SA junior welterweight belt.

Previous male chairmen since 2001 did well, including starting the Baby Champs development programme. But still, women did not take part in that programme, which helped unearth male talent.

It was not until Fikile Mbalula became sports minister that females became visible in boxing. Mbalula went as far as appointing Ravele as BSA boss in 2014.

Ravele became vocal in encouraging women to join boxing in various ranks - yet she doesn't want the credit.

"It does not really matter if it is a male or female at the helm, but what is important is the thinking in creating opportunities for all.

"It is about policies. In any organisation, there needs to be policies to encourage women to participate in any sport."

Ravele said since her board came into power, it has made sure there is such a policy.

"Your programme then needs you to be biased towards women because they have not been afforded equal opportunities as their male counterparts. If in three or five years you find that you have achieved your objectives, you then use same strategy to sustain everybody," she said.

"Sometimes people tend to think that empowering women is a reverse, which is not because it is just a programme. It is like transformation which took long to achieve the objectives due to resistance.

"In boxing, we still have male promoters who do not want to have female bouts in their tournaments, and that is resistance. They are not helping to achieve the country's objective of having women participating in sport," she added.

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