Boxing boost from mixed martial arts

EFC Africa president Cairo Howarth.
EFC Africa president Cairo Howarth.
Image: Gallo Images / Lefty Shivambu

There is a plea for synergy between Boxing South Africa (BSA) and Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC).

Cairo Howarth, together with his two brothers, have built EFC to become the biggest mixed martial arts brand in Africa.

Their biggest strength is that they have their own television production company - something that probably makes it even easier for the corporate world to be associated with EFC. There are sponsors galore and live action on TV is guaranteed.

The success of EFC has attracted a number of former and current professional boxers. Some share their boxing skills in training with mixed martial arts fighters while others are involved in the actual sport.

On the other hand, boxing does not enjoy support from the corporate world or live coverage on television.

Boxing South Africa chief executive Tsholofelo Lejaka.
Boxing South Africa chief executive Tsholofelo Lejaka.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

Cape Town based Howarth, president of EFC, told Sunday World that he is willing to engage BSA and see how best they can find each other. "It will be good to sit down with BSA; try and find solutions to an everlasting working relationship."

American Dana White, who owns Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), did it with the Nevada State Athletic Commission which enabled UFC champion Connor McGregor to face Floyd Mayweather Junior in "The Money Fight", and "The Biggest Fight in Combat Sports History" on August 26 2017. Mayweather, who won by a 10th-round stoppage, took home $300m while McGregor's boxing debut earned him $100m.

The beauty is that both BSA and EFC do not compromise when it comes to medical examination of their fighters.

Local boxing has gone through a lot, including allegations of maladministration and corruption. This is the sport that was once even more popular than football.

Former sports minister Fikile Mbalula then appointed Tsholofelo Lejaka as the CEO in 2016 and said: "I can vouch with my cows at home, I am giving you the best."

Indeed Lejaka has knocked the sport into shape. "It will be very good that we sit down with Mr Howarth who has done wonders with mixed martial arts. Surely a lot of good can come out of our meeting," said Lejaka this week.

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