Grading is a good place to start

Boxing SA must improve conditions for ring officials

Alfred Buqwana
Alfred Buqwana
Image: Tsheko Kabasia

I hate to say this because it could easily be misconstrued by individuals who thrive on sewing division within the boxing sector.

But you know what, I am saying it anyway. The newly appointed board of Boxing SA must do what many previous authorities failed dismally to do during their reigns and that is to honour ring officials while they are still alive and get them involved in honing the skills of aspirant officials. This is a thankless job here and ring officials get paid peanuts.

Their American colleague Robert Byrd — who refereed the Floyd Mayweather-Connor McGregor fight — earned $25,000. The system here is flawed in that international sanctioning bodies the IBF, WBA, IBO, WBF and ABU pay officials amounts decided by their representatives here in SA. I won’t talk about the WBC because it scarcely has fights here.

SA once had respected ring officials like Joe Horn, Alfred “Kid Bassie” Buqwana, Clement Martins, Gordon “Prince” Goba, Godfrey Meje, Amos Lusenga, Phillip Durandt, Freddie Makhathini, Lizbeth Thela, Sylvia Maphangule, Boitumelo Madiba, Morris “Mixo” Mohloai, Francis Manning, Terrence “Ace” Makaluza and Wally Snowball.

Horn died in 2013 while Maphangule, from Limpopo, died in 2008. Manning, from KwaZulu-Natal, departed in April last year, with Makhathini succumbing to illness in August. Makaluza died in November.

Buqwana, Goba, Mohloai, Makaluza — all former professional boxers — Durandt, Lusenga, Martins, Meje and Snowball are still alive.

Buqwana was a judge of the “Bite Fight” between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield in Las Vegas in 1997. Thela, from Mpumalanga, grew under the tutelage of veteran boxing administrator Stanley Sono and she became one of the most respected judges. She officiated in many national title fights, including the SA junior- middleweight championship between Tshepo Mashego and William Gare in Secunda in 2004. Gare won that fight.

Snowball was the last of the veteran ring officials to retire.

These ladies and gentlemen of high nobility deserve to be honoured. That gesture will encourage those that are still around to soldier on despite all the trials and tribulations that come with being ring officials.

Boxing SA’s seven-member board of Luthando Jack (chair), Sakhiwo Sodo, Eric Sithole, Surej Maharaj, Shadrack Nthangeni, Gilberto Martins and Zandile Kabini can create jobs for all these former officials by introducing the culture of grading ring officials. That will be the guide to their appointment in title fights because the system used nowadays in messed up such that it is a foregone conclusion that the longevity of officials automatically qualifies them for high-profile fights, whether they have continuously blundered in their previous fights or not.

A new official — if he or she is on good terms with provincial managers who appoint them — can also just walk straight into a title match without serving as an intern. Perhaps those powers must be removed from provincial managers and be given to a board member who will appoint ring officials based on their grading, which will be determined by points from their records. That is where the experience of the likes of Buqwana, Martins, Goba, Thela, Mohloai and Snowball will also come in handy.

I am just saying.

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