With the likes of Vuyani Bungu, Cassius Baloyi, Phillip Ndou and Baby Jake Matlala representing us, South Africa used to have a formidble reputation in the world of boxing.
But since the SABC stopped broadcasting matches several years ago, the popularity of the sport locally and the fierce reputation of our fighters have faded somewhat.
In an effort to change this, boxing fanatic and commentator Dicksy Ngqula has created a boxing league with prize money of a million rand.
Sponsors of the league include The Eastern Cape Gambling Board, The Eastern Cape Department of Sports, Boxing South Africa, The Daily Sun and The Sunday Sun.
“We launched the league in 2013 so that people can get to know what it is about,” says Ngqula. “But we faced a number of challenges, such as schedule clashes. Boxers could not participate in the league and still fight their own matches for their promoters.”
Having overcome this and other teething problems, Ngqula says the league has been doing well. Now 16 boxers from different weight divisions battle it out for the R1-million cash prize. The different divisions include welterweight, bantamweight, lightweight and featherweight.
The boxer with the highest number of points at the end of the season gets the money.
Ngqula’s passion for the sport was one of the reasons he started the league, and he is hopeful that this formula will be life changing for the boxers.
“We had to come up with a different way of packaging boxing. Not a lot of people are interested in watching a 12-round boxing match,” he explains.
“We want to raise the stature of the game in the country. We are hoping to contribute and really celebrate the elite boxers in South Africa and want to contribute to the development of this sport.
“We are hoping to impact their lives in a way that really makes a difference,” he concludes.
Although this season of the Premier Boxing League will not be broadcast, Ngqula hopes that boxing fans who can’t make it to the matches will get the chance to watch the next season. Talks are currently underway to get the league’s matches on our screens.
As the future of boxing remains in limbo, boxing fans can only hope that broadcasters will realise that there is an audience for the matches, and fans who want to see their fighters in the ring.