Extension granted, but some feel it is still not enough

WBF boss gives Bay boxers until May to defend titles

Motherwell boxer Thembelani Okolo has been given until May 15 to defend his WBF title
Motherwell boxer Thembelani Okolo has been given until May 15 to defend his WBF title

World Boxing Federation (WBF) president Howard Goldberg has given Nelson Mandela Bay boxers until May to  defend their titles or risk being stripped of them.

WBF International strawweight champion Thembelani Okolo and Sanele Magwaza, who is the WBF Africa bantamweight champion, must defend their titles by May 15.

Mdantsane-born Noni Tenge must defend her WBF World super welterweight title by May 1.

An e-mail from Goldberg on February 5 addressed to the NMB Promoters Association secretary Sibongile Nkebe read: “As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the WBF champions around the world were given an extended period of time to defend their titles, failing which titles would be vacated.

“As the president of the Word Boxing Federation and given my strong relationship with boxing in the Nelson Mandela Bay area, I convinced my committee to further extend the grace period for the champions to defend.

“We are now in a situation that is imperative for the champions to defend their respective titles.”

Goldberg further stated that former WBF World super featherweight champion Nozipho Bell deserved another opportunity to contest a title. Bell last fought in July 2019.

Caiphus Ntante, who manages both Okolo and Magwaza, welcomed the grace period.

“We are excited about the extension because we did not know our standing with the WBF since we had way passed our defence period,” Ntante said.

“I think the boxers were relieved after been given this extension. We want to also thank WBF president Goldberg for giving us this grace because these titles should have already been stripped.

“However, now  they have been given an extension for the third time because of Covid-19, and we really appreciate what Goldberg has done.

“For now we are still awaiting for our promoter to give us dates to fight.”

The three boxers are all under Aphile Boxing Promotions.

Boniswa Lamani, the managing director of Aphile Boxing Promotions, shared Ntante’s sentiments.

“We are happy with the extension, we have already had talks [about this issue] within Aphile as the committee,” Lamani said.

“However, we did not come to a conclusion and speak to any potential funders as yet.

“In a meeting that we had as the NMB Promoters Association earlier in the year it was discussed that as from February 6 no-one is allowed to go and seek for funds from the municipality as an individual.

“That is why we have forwarded this letter to the association and requested a meeting with them to plot a way forward.”

In the e-mail, Goldberg also states that he has given the boxers more grace than other WBF champions and hopes that they will be able to defend their titles.

But Tenge, who now lives in the Bay, feels that the two-month extension will not be enough.

“We are in the middle of February now. So we only have March and April to prepare,” Tenge said.

“We are usually given six months to defend but this time he [Goldberg] was a bit unfair, I don’t want to lie.

“Everything was on standstill due to Covid-19 and we are under pressure already.

“However, I have talked with my manager and we are busy working on something, but I am not happy with the category they want me to fight in.

“I will never fight in the 72kg category because I have to defend my belt. I can never risk my life.

“I cannot do that because 72kg is in the heavyweight category and I am a lightweight fighter.”



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