Justice Siliga is concerned about having no income during the lockdown. Photo supplied.
Many professional boxers are gravely concerned about an income. They say that, by the time the government announces the end of the lockdown, literally no sporting activities will be taking place. With sports suspended because of the Covid-19 pandemic, many sportspeople are worried that their careers are in jeopardy.
The biggest concern of local boxer Justice “Viper” Siliga of Magau, who was ranked number three by Boxing South Africa (BSA) in the heavyweight division, is the total lack of income during the lockdown. Many boxers did not benefit from the Covid-19 Relief Funds that the Minister of Sport, Mr Nathi Mthethwa, had announced.
The relief was not available to all, but rather only to those boxers who had already lined up sanctioned fights that were affected when the government pronounced the national lockdown. Many who did not get anything said that making a living was becoming difficult because of the lockdown as they had used their last money to renew their licences with BSA.
Siliga said the new enemy they were facing now was hunger. He said that hunger would put an end to their lives, or he had to find the means to defeat it. He said that he had been supposed to fight Ruan Visser last year in June. Visser, the champion at the time, failed a drug test, however, and was suspended for four years by the court for sports and arbitration in Switzerland. The title is therefore currently vacant.
He said that he trained himself to stay fit and was always jogging. He added that something was needed to help them keep the wolf from the door since their only source of income was eliminated by the national lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Siliga suggested that the government should assist promoters to stage fights behind closed doors, with no fans and within a strictly controlled environment. “If fighting without fans is what it takes, then so be it,” he proposed. “The bottom line is, we will earn some money that will help us live. That would at least mean that everyone involved in the sport could get back to work, even if not under ideal circumstances, and that fans at home would be able to watch on television or on their streaming devices.”
He said that different sporting codes had been suspended since March, with no clear date set for a return. “We don't know if we are going to go back to the ring. We don't know if boxing will start again, as nobody is sure what is going on,” he added.
Date:03 July 2020 - By: Kaizer Nengovhela
Kaizer Nengovhela started writing stories for Limpopo Mirror more than a decade ago, in 2 000. Prior to that he had a five year stint at Phala-Phala FM as sports presenter. In 2005 Kaizer received an award from the province's premier as Best Sports Presenter. The same year he was also nominated as Best Sports Reporter by the Makhado Municipality. Kaizer was awarded the Mathatha Tsedu award in 2014.