Dude, where’s my belt?

CityPress - - Sport - PULE MOKHINE pmokhine@city­press.co.za

Box­ing SA (BSA) is look­ing to se­cure a spon­sor to re­store the qual­ity and avail­ablity of its na­tional cham­pi­onship belts.

The sport lo­cally is fac­ing a bit of a chal­lenge due to the short­age of these na­tional sym­bols for ti­tle­hold­ers.

This came af­ter the BSA cut ties with its pre­vi­ous spon­sor, dis­till­ing com­pany Old Buck, in 2006. The com­pany had pro­vided qual­ity box­ing belts since 1997.

Box­ing rules state that a South African champ should re­ceive a belt for his ef­forts.

But of late, they are like hen’s teeth.

A case in point is South Africa’s new cruis­er­weight king, Kevin Ler­ena, who had to pose with Gideon Buthelezi’s mid­dleweight belt in the ring af­ter he de­throned Deon Coet­zee at Em­per­ors Palace last month.

Ler­ena said this week he was still wait­ing for his prize.

BSA board chair­per­son Ntambi Ravele ac­knowl­edged the sit­u­a­tion, ad­mit­ting there was a short­age of belts.

“We are look­ing at se­cur­ing spon­sor­ship for our na­tional belts,” she said. “There aren’t enough belts at the mo­ment for all our champs in all weight classes.

“I am op­ti­mistic that the BSA will get a spon­sor soon, so all our na­tional champs will be pre­sented with belts af­ter win­ning.”

Ler­ena said: “It’s strange that I won the na­tional ti­tle, but was not pre­sented with the belt.

“I’m still wait­ing for an­swers from the BSA on why I don’t have some­thing to show for be­ing crowned na­tional cham­pion.”

BSA board mem­ber Peter Ngatane also de­cried the ab­sence of belts.

“This is a wor­ry­ing is­sue, but we hope to do some­thing soon to solve this prob­lem.

“We’d like to en­sure that all our na­tional champs take pride in fight­ing for cham­pi­onship belts, as was the case pre­vi­ously.”

Ngatane said it was im­per­a­tive for the BSA to re­view the avail­abil­ity and qual­ity of the belts.

Pre­vi­ously, any South African boxer who won a na­tional ti­tle and de­fended it suc­cess­fully on three oc­ca­sions owned the belt.

In 1991, this was amended to five suc­cess­ful de­fences. Also, no fighter can hold more than one belt in the same weight class.

PHOTO: AFRICAN RING MAG­A­ZINE

PROUD WBA fly­weight cham­pion Peter Mathe­bula with the revered Old Buck cham­pi­onship belt in 1980

PHOTO: DEN­ZIL MAREGELE

PA­TIENT Kevin Ler­ena is still wait­ing for his cham­pi­onship belt af­ter win­ning the SA cruis­er­weight ti­tle

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