Cape Town - The fastest-growing world sanctioning body, the World Boxing Federation (WBF), hosted its convention in Cape Town a few days ago.
Despite the prestige that goes along with hosting a world sanctioning body's blue ribband event, Boxing South Africa (BSA) failed to attend the event. They were given an invitation five months ago and failed to respond.
It was only the third time in SA boxing history that a world-sanctioning organization has its annual convention in Mzansi.
BSA's absence is even though the WBF has been the most active sanctioning body in the country and has provided many work opportunities for fight officials such as judges, referees, cornermen and timekeepers.
Also, by staging title bouts many boxers have had a chance to fight for titles and become champions. It would have followed that they would be supportive of the WBF.
Over the years, the WBF has been the only world sanctioning body to help local boxing with equipment. A few years ago, the WBF and German automobile manufacturer Porsche donated equipment to five Western Cape boxing gyms to the value of R500 000.
Over the years, the WBF and its president Howard Goldberg have offered to run courses for BSA free of charge. Every year they run training courses on various boxing subjects around the world.
During the four-day convention, many seminars were presented by specialists in various fields. The experts included Goldberg, a former referee and judge with over 300 title fights under his belt. Nowadays he serves as a fight supervisor for the WBF around the world. He presented the referees' and judges’ seminars.
The medical seminar was presented by Dr Louwrens Erasmus, a healthcare practitioner, specialising as a general practitioner. Rael Koping conducted a nutrition seminar. He has over 20 years of experience as a registered dietician and has worked with many sports teams including the Stormers, the reigning United Rugby Championship winners.
The well-known Gauteng boxing trainer Gert Strydom presented the cornerman seminar. Strydom has been associated with various martial arts and has many years of experience as a boxer and a trainer. He runs a professional gym in Gauteng and runs fitness classes for corporates.
Over the years, BSA has never convened seminars and has never called on experts to share boxing intelligence with the boxing fraternity. One of the reasons is that very often the BSA CEO is a person with no boxing background and cannot appreciate the benefits of seminars by experts.
The convention attracted officials from 13 countries and British boxing promoter Michael Helliet whose stable includes over 40 professional boxers was among those at the convention.
"It was four days well spent and very informative," said Helliet. "I have attended boxing conventions around the world and this one was really good."
The Kuwait-based Abbas Sadeghi, the Middle East Chairman of the WBF, said the conference was organised.
"I was grateful that the experts were very good in their presentations and we all learnt so much," said Sadeghi, who is also linked to several other martial arts organisations around the world like the Global fighting championship (GFC) and English Contact Karate Association (ECKA).
"The seminars helped all of us increase our knowledge on various aspects of boxing and now we have to share this with boxers and trainers in our home countries.
"There was so much to learn for fight officials and it will improve the standards of officiating around the world because these officials work for many organisations."
Alan Dillon, an official from the Emil Brice Boxing Foundation, said the convention was what South African boxing needed.
"There was so much to learn at the convention and that is what it should be about," said Dillon. "Boxing cannot afford to have people on board and they don't know what they are doing.
"Every time a boxer steps through the ring, his life could be on the line so we as trainers must prepare boxers adequately for a fight. Our training and preparation should be thorough and the convention has given us more tools to do our jobs well."
Tony Mayala, a former Angolan boxer who nowadays runs a gymnasium in Cape Town and has a promoter's licence, said the convention was a wonderful experience.
"The convention offered so much knowledge and the presenters were so good in the various categories," said Mayala. "It is so important that we are all kept up to date with the latest trends and developments in boxing.
"I only hope that we have more of these conventions because there is so much to learn."
During the convention, the delegates were treated to a tournament in Cape Town, under the Jackie Brice Promotions banner.
In the main event, the local star Wassim Chellan won the WBF All Africa Welterweight title after dethroning reigning champion and fellow countryman Limpopo's Lybon Ntshani.
Chellan was the sharper boxer, and his incredible work rate won the majority of the rounds. In the end, he claimed a deserved unanimous decision by scores of 97-93 (judge Bernd Hupfer, Germany), 97-93 (judge Bulcsú Gábris, Hungary) and 98-92 (judge Patrick Mkondiwa, Zimbabwe).
The convention ended with tourism activities to Table Mountain and boat rides in the V & A Waterfront before the finale, the awards dinner at a Sea Point hotel.