Professional Boxing After Independence

The Greek Philosopher Socrates said the secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

These words resonate in the truest sense.
The Boxing and Wrestling Control Act, which was brought into force in 1980, applied to a dependent South West Africa which was still under the rule of South Africa.

Namibia still operates under this act.
Numerous boards have come and gone, all with the same agenda – to update the outdated act, but nothing has materialised to this day.

This act has been described as discriminatory by a former chairman of the boxing board.

On 7 April 2021, the minister of sport, youth and national service, Agnes Tjongarero, appointed Magreth Mengo to become the chairperson of the Namibia Professional Boxing and Wrestling Control Board.

She was the first woman to ever take this position – a term she will serve to the end of April 2024.

When the new board was appointed, the minister said the new board members should consider revising the Boxing Act of 1980, which, according to her, is ancient and requires some changes.

Mengo, a national hockey team player and captain, echoed the minister’s sentiments and said the board’s first priority would be to revise the act.

At the release of this open letter, no stakeholder meeting has been called on the establishment of a new act.
Namibia, after 33 years of independence is still guided by an outdated act, which prohibits women from boxing in professional matches.

On 26 August 2018, president Hage Geingob said: “As we work for a better Namibia in which no one should feel left out, let us hold hands in the spirit of Harambee.”

I am confident in saying that in professional boxing, women in Namibia are feeling excluded as they can’t participate in the sport they love.

As an international professional boxing referee/judge, I have witnessed inequality in professional boxing in Namibia.
Namibia has two women referees/judges – two women who have not been called upon to officiate at any local bouts in the last four years.

Two years after Mengo started serving on the boxing board, there is still no mention of women ever to partake in professional boxing in Namibia.

Only when women can start to participate in professional boxing, there can be made mention of harmony in professional boxing in Namibia.

For 12 years referee/judges in Namibia have not been offered any refresher workshops to nurture their skills.
Favouritism when it comes to the appointment of local officials at tournaments are a matter of concern, with no rotation schedule transparent to officials.

I am writing this open letter in my own capacity as an independent contractor licensed by the Namibian Boxing and Wrestling Control Board as a professional boxing referee/judge.

I am calling upon the minister to engage the current board as speedily as possible on the matter.

Patrick Esterhuizen,
professional boxing referee

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