The silent war is stifling the boxing world

The grass suffers as Berman and Nathan cross swords

18 January 2021 - 08:47
By Bongani Magasela
Hekkie
Image: Moeletsi Mabe Hekkie "Hexecutioner" Budler has been affected by the trainers tug of war.

The silent war between SA’s top boxing promoter Rodney Berman and accomplished trainer Colin Nathan has affected innocent bystanders – boxers, to be precise.

Berman’s Golden Gloves company promoted Nathan's entire stable, and their partnership was beneficial to SA boxing. It is now unclear what got between them to cause such an ugly split. Neither party is entertaining questions about the cause of their split.

One boxer, among many from Nathan’s stable who is directly affected, is Hekkie “The Hexecutioner” Budler.

The whirlwind performer, who was fan favourite at Emperors Palace, where Berman stages all his fights, last fought on December 31 2018 in Macau, where he lost his WBA Super junior flyweight title to Hiroto Kyoguchi.

It was because of Berman’s writings reminding the WBA of its own rules that the Venezuela-based sanctioning boxing body elevated Budler’s status from being the interim WBA champion to being a fully-fledged WBA Super champion in 2014.

His achievement made him the first South African fighter to receive that designation.

That was after that weight division’s champion, Riyo Miyakazi, relinquished the title after moving up a division.

Budler’s achievement saw him join a proud line of local fighters to hold WBA titles, including Gerrie Coetzee (heavyweight), Budler’s uncle Piet Crouws (cruiserweight), Peter Mathebula (flyweight), Dingaan Thobela (lightweight) and Brian Mitchell (lightweight).

Budler has in total held the IBO, WBA minimum, IBO, IBF and WBA Super junior flyweight belts, most of them under Berman. Budler was also the Ring Magazine recipient in 2018. The last local fighter to win that belt was Vic Toweel way back in 1950. Sadly, Budler has never been honoured here for his monumental accomplishments.

The Johannesburg-based boxer told Sowetan yesterday: “Time flies; I had forgotten that the WBA Super status happened this month seven years ago until you reminded me about it. It was a great honour because I got into boxing to do things that other people had not done. I mean, winning the Ring Magazine belt was the cherry on top. I can simply say I achieved my goal but I am still in the game and I am hopeful that I will get action this year.”