Dearth of champions hits boxing hard

Simpiwe Konkco. / Mark Andrews
Simpiwe Konkco. / Mark Andrews

South African boxing is on its lowest ebb and has been in consistent decline.

Even those who take pride in the sport, following it religiously, have come to admit that local boxing will never be the same.

It is very hard to put a finger on the pulse of the problem, maybe because it is not just one problem.

It could be lack of talent, bad management or a combination of both.

It could also be that South Africa no longer has the drawcards in terms of fighters compared to those of yesteryear who captured the public's imagination.

Some notables are Gerrie Coetzee, Dingaan Thobela, Charlie Weir, Arnold Taylor, Arthur Mayisela, Brian Mitchell, Welcome Ncita, Vuyani Bungu, Lehlohonolo Ledwaba and Jan Bergman.

These boxers and a few others could literally fill any stadium in the country.

Here are the facts:

  •  Boxing SA has confirmed that it has 745 registered boxers in its database, with 694 males and 51 females. South Africa has only one world champion from the super four sanctioning bodies (the WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO) and that is Zolani "Last Born" Tete, who holds the WBO bantamweight belt.
  •  Kevin "Two Guns" Lerena, Simpiwe "Chain Reaction" Konkco and Gideon "Hard Core" Buthelezi are IBO champions. Lerena holds the cruiserweight belt while Konkco is the mini-flyweight champion. Buthelezi holds the junior bantamweight title.
  •  Lerena and Konkco are also the only two who are rated highly by the WBC, WBA and IBF. Lerena is rated No 4 by the WBC, eighth by the WBA and fourth by the IBF. Konkco is ranked No 4 by the WBC, second by the WBA and ninth by the IBF.
  • Former IBO junior flyweight champion Hekkie Budler is at No 9 in the IBF.
  •  IBF International flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane occupies the No 8 spot in the WBC and IBF rankings. Buthelezi is rated No 9 by the IBF.
  • The current ABU (African Boxing Union) cruiserweight champion, Thabiso Mchunu, is rated No 15 by the WBC.

BSA board member and local WBC governor, Peter Ngatane, made it clear that the WBC does not just hand over its ratings.

"A boxer must know that they have something special about them to be recognised by the WBC," said Ngatane.

Thobela was the last local to win the WBC belt when he dethroned Glenn Catley in a Super Middleweight title fight in Brakpan in 2000.

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