Sport minister to appoint new boxing board

By Michael Uugwanga

THE Minister of Sport, Youth and National Service is yet to announce a new board for the financially troubled Namibian Professional Boxing and Wrestling Control Board (NPBWCB), despite the current three-year-term of the current board having ended, as it was put into place on 5 September 2016.

The board members that were appointed by then minister of sport Jerry Ekandjo in 2016 in terms of the Boxing Act of 1980 were chairperson of the board Ellison Hijarunguru, Ronald Kurtz, a lawyer by profession and spokesperson, Philip Mwandingi, a labour consultant, Dr Kenny Hepundjua, a medical doctor who quit in 2017 and Victoria Hamunyela, a financial and marketing expert.

The board was appointed to improve the standard of boxing in Namibia, but that has apparently not happened if there is truth to media reports about claims by some boxing promoters that board chairman Hijarunguru has been running the board as his own little fiefdom.

One example of this was the exchange of explicit text messages, which at one point became personal between the owner of Iron Lady Promotions, Anita Tjombe, and Hijarungu in 2016 after Tjombe had accused Hijarunguru of deliberately not sanctioning her planned boxing bonanza on 29 October 2016. It was said she did not meet requirements such as medical certificates of the boxers, boxers’ contract fees, securities and ambulances. A fallout between Kinda Nangolo of Kinda Promotions and Hijarunguru was also reported in 2016 after Nangolo had accused Hijarunguru of owing him around N$79,000.

Minister of Sport Erastus Uutoni told Confidente Sport that the ministry was in no rush to re-appoint or appoint a new board and that the matter is under control. Despite being very aware of the expiry of terms of the board members, Uutoni said he did not want to sow confusion by going into detail on the matter.

“This is something that we are taking care off. We are patient with it. We do know [about the end of terms], therefore the matter is being handled very carefully. [If you are] holding a public office your matter needs to be handled very carefully, whether you are doing a good job or not,” he said.

NPBWCB spokesperson Kurtz in turn said he was unsure whether he would continue to serve on the new board.

“As far as I know I am still a board member but it will be better to ask the minister himself if he has appointed new people. From my own capacity I still think that I am the best person for the job but there is nothing I can do when it comes to appointing board members.

“For the past two to three weeks my mind had been split on whether I should proceed or not. The thing is that I want to make a difference in boxing ever since I was appointed to serve on the board. The reason why NPBWCB had problems is because there are no resources.”