Empty seats 'hurting the sport'

Promoter urges government to allow fans in boxing

Rumble Africa Promotions chief executive Nomfesane Nyathela, centre, with Ludumo ‘9mm’ Lamati, left, and Filipino Richie Meprunum.
Rumble Africa Promotions chief executive Nomfesane Nyathela, centre, with Ludumo ‘9mm’ Lamati, left, and Filipino Richie Meprunum.
Image: RANDELL ROSKRUGE \ Daily Dispatch

Rumble Africa boxing promotion chief executive Nomfesane Nyatela has urged the powers-that-be to allow at least 500 fans in boxing matches.

She said it did not make sense to open cinemas and drinking holes under the current level 1 of lockdown but not open for indoor sports like boxing. “The address last week by President Cyril Ramaphosa is very confusing,” she said.

Ramaphosa said they were amending the alert level 1 regulations to restore the normal trading hours for the sale of alcohol and retail outlets and that they were also opening international travel to all countries subject to the necessary health protocols. But in September, he said 250 or less people were allowed in recreational gatherings in case of indoors and 500 for outdoors.

"Our sport takes place indoors but still fans are not permitted,” lamented Nyatela. “If the president is really concerned for the economy to normalise, why can’t he realise that there are many people  who rely on the sport for a living,  and that boxing is one of them?” she asked. “Promoters and the sport also suffer."

“This sport does not even have sponsors and no live television coverage. Promoters make little money out of gate takings. Remember, when you approach a sponsor you must say exactly what is in it for them. Now if you don’t have television on your side... how will you convince a business person to give you money?

"If we are allowed to bring in fans, we, as promoters, will work hand-in-hand with Boxing SA to ensure that we enforce the Covid-19 health protocols."

Her company will stage a tournament on December 6 at Orient Theatre, which takes about 1,500 people. The line-up includes fan-favourite Azinga “Golden Boy” Fuzile against Lunga Stemela, while newcomer Luyanda “Pretty Boy” Ntwanambi will take on seasoned campaigner – SA and WBC International champion Jackson “M3” Chauke.

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