Regulators caution ‘risky’ MTC/GBV bout

By Michael Uugwanga

AS much as MTC has for the past three months been vocal and visible in the campaign against gender-based violence (GBV) in Namibia through its MTC Knockout Boxing Project that was staged last Saturday, the Namibia Professional Boxing and Wrestling Control Board (NPBWCB) has questioned the organisers for failing to provide protection gear for the participants.

The MTC Knockout boxing project,which brought together a number of well-known male Namibian personalities to fight over three rounds of exhibition boxing, drew criticism this week from NPBWCB spokesperson Ronald Krutz, who felt that the safety of the participants was supposed to be  priority.

Although the celebrities received three months of training from two of Namibia’s established boxing clubs, Sunshine Fitness and Boxing Academy and Salute Boxing Academy, their lives could had been in great danger.

Last year an amateur boxer, Gabriel Shighwedha, died in Oshakati State Hospital, four days after he was knocked out by Sebastian Nujoma in the second round of their scheduled three-round match in an unsanctioned boxing tournament in Opuwo in Kunene region.

Two professional boxers, Argentinian fighter Hugo Alfredo Santillan, 23 and Russian fighter Maxim Dadashev, 28,died in July this year from injuries sustained during bouts.

Speaking in an interview with Confidente, Kurtz, who did not attend the event, said it was not sanctioned by the board and that it was a big risk that such an initiative was allowed to take place.

An example of that risk was on display when businessman Johnny Doeseb was knocked down and unconscious for a few moments following heavy punches from Job Amupanda during their bout, while Mufaro Nesongano awkwardly  fell on the floor in the first round with his back and head on the rope courtesy of Mathew ‘Mappz’ Kapofi right hook punch.

Even during sparring professional boxers normally wear headgear to protect themselves from head injuries.

“Lots of people from other boxing academies called me to express their dissatisfaction about the event. MTC did approach us when they first started, as they wanted our blessing and for us to sanction it but they went outside our mandate by approaching the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC),who gave them the go-ahead.

”They (MTC) did not follow the rules, such as testing the boxers or other medical conditions. They even asked us to provide them with judges and referees, but we did not do that. However, the judges and referees went on their own risk as we told them that ‘if you go there it is on your own risk.’ I was shocked that the boxers were not provided with helmets.

“I’m surprised that Sunshine and Salute never thought of providing protection equipment to the boxers.  Imagine what if someone could  have died inside the ring?” Kurtz asked.

As to whether Namibian  boxing could find itself in hot water from world boxing bodies for hosting such an initiative, Kurtz said had the event been sanctioned by the board it would had been a different story.

Namibia’s only female boxing promoter, Anita Tjombe, founder of Iron Lady Promotions also took a swipe at the whole spectacle, saying that although the initiative was supposed to be for a good cause, it made a complete mockery of the sport of boxing.

“It was a very big risk. What if someone could have been killed and who would had been responsible for that? They made boxing a joke, because boxing is a discipline sport. Not even in America or in any other parts of the world will they do such an event with boxing to promote the end of GBV. It is a good move, but they could have used real boxers,” stressed Tjombe.

Neither Nestor Tobias and Tim Ekandjo of MTC responded to Confidente’s questions on why participants were not provided with protection safety at the time of going to print.

Shipanga to  the floor.