By John Tuerijama
NAMIBIA still uses an apartheid era law to govern professional boxing and wrestling in the country, and successive ministers responsible for sport seemed to have done nothing to remedy the situation.
Professional boxing and wrestling operates under the Boxing and Wrestling Control Act of 1980, promulgated 10 years before independence and still in effect 26 years after Namibia attained sovereignty.
It has also come to light that officials in charge of the boxing and wrestling control board which is established in the Boxing Act have been presented with a newer and modern version of the act but little or nothing has been done to date.
This has left boxing officials fuming and calls for reforms have escalated in recent weeks, following the appointment of a new Boxing and Wrestling Control Board.
Former chairman of the Namibia Professional Boxing and Wrestling Control Board, Kelly Nghixulifwa denied claims that he presided over a body that did little to reform professional boxing in the country.
He laid the blame squarely on the table of the sports ministry, saying he had done everything necessary to have a new boxing law in place.
“The process of reviewing the Boxing Act of 1980, which still refers to Namibia as South West Africa, and the Minister of Sport as Administrator General, started long time ago when John Mutorwa was the Minister of Sport,” revealed Nghixulifwa.
“This process continued during the era of both Kazenambo Kazenambo and then Willem Konjore, and I must tell you we presented the draft documents to the current Minister (Jerry Ekandjo) for over four times and nothing concrete has come of it,” said Ngixulifwa, who was recently removed as chairman of the boxing control body, and was replaced by Ellison Hijarunguru, a boxing guru in his own right.
At the appointment of the new boxing board, Ekandjo reiterated what everyone already knows, which is that the Boxing Act of 1980 is very outdated. He called on the new team of boxing commissioners to improve the standard of professional boxing in the country.
“The delay is really not with the stakeholders but the Minister and there was nothing we could do,” Ngixulifwa stressed.
Ngixulifwa said it was important for the Boxing Act to be amended or replaced with a new one altogether as it does not address the direction in which professional boxing has morphed.
He said during his tenure as head of the boxing board, they consulted international professional boxing sanctioning bodies such as World Boxing Association (WBA), World Boxing Council (WBC) and International Boxing Federation (IBF) in the review and drafting of new legislative piece which would replace the archaic Boxing Act of 1980.
“We are running a risk of being taken to task by these organisations (WBA, WBO, IBF) if we don’t do something now about the Boxing Act of 1980,” he cautioned.
According to Ngixulifwa, the draft that his team prepared addresses various issues such as weigh-in classes, categories of boxers, contracts between the board and promoters, contracts between boxers and promoters, trainers, ring officials and how to address boxing grievances. “So, it’s important that the Boxing Act is prioritised as a matter of urgency,” he said.
Former Boxing Board member, Ambrosius Kandjii, echoed his former chairperson’s sentiments that a new Boxing Act is long overdue. “We have done the donkey work as required even though there were internal conflicts. We consulted broadly with our lawyers and presented the documents to the Government attorneys but really this is unacceptable,” he said.
Another former member of the board, Joe Kaperu said the delay in having the old law repealed and replaced with a new one was because of lack of funds.
He however cautioned that delays in modernising the boxing law will expose boxers to abuse by promoters as the current act does not provide the necessary protection for pugilists.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015