Women in boxing are frustrated by many things, and that includes a lack of equality. This was aggravated by BSA director of operations Mandla Ntlanganiso when he stepped on sore nerve last week.
He ignored the country’s first-ever ABU champion, flyweight holder Smangele “Smash” Hadebe when he invited newly crowned SA junior lightweight holder Sibusiso Zingange for lunch at Boxing SA’s headquarters in Pretoria.
Hadebe and Zingange fought in the same tournament two weeks ago. Hadebe’s fight was the first fully fledged ABU championship here against Tanzanian Halima Vunjabel. Hadebe squared off with Phila Mpontshane. Hadebe and Zingange won their 10 and 12 rounders by wide margins.
Ntlanganiso and his colleague, acting CEO Nsikayezwe Sithole, laced the belts around the waists of these two newly crowned champions. But Ntlanganiso “ignored” Hadebe, her trainer Anton Nel and manager Colleen McAusland. He invited Zingange, his trainers Julian Pot and Zaron Ramos and manager Emmanuel Mutavhatsindi.
Hadebe’s camp was expecting BSA board member Zandile Kabini – who is the chairperson of Women in Boxing – to be the first to congratulate Hadebe, whose historic ABU belt victory will earn her recognition from the WBC’s ratings committee.
Why is Kabini still the chairperson of women in boxing when she fails to recognise one of her own. BSA 2017 manager of the year award winner Colleen McAulands, who manages Hadebe, was livid.
“You know, I don’t even know how Kabini looks like,” she said. “This is the person who failed to call and congratulate Smangele for winning the SA title; now it is the ABU belt. Smash is the first ABU female champ from here but with no recognition.
“This is disheartening; no wonder why girls want to leave boxing. I saw the luncheon happening at BSA with Zingange and I wondered if Smangele would be afforded such an opportunity after putting women boxing on the map. Now Mandla invites Sibusiso and ignores Smash. Why?
“Thema Zuma [who lost to Hadebe for the SA flyweight title last year] was supposed to fight in Cape Town on Saturday. She arrives at the airport in Durban after a two-hour drive from Port Shepstone where she stays. She gets told that the flight ticket has been cancelled. A call was made to the promoter, who only told her at 1pm that BSA cancelled the tournament.
“This is a fighter who had not eaten anything because she was still to jump on the scale in the official weigh-in on her arrival in Cape Town. There is no respect whatsoever for women here. You wonder why women want to leave boxing.”
Women miss Muditambi Ravele – who during her three year reign as BSA chairperson – ensured that women boxers, promoters and officials received attention and opportunities to be involved in high-profile fights just like their male counterparts.
She offered financial support through the government to female promoters staging women-only tournaments aimed at celebrating Women’s Month in August. Tournament supervision and ring officials was strictly females.