Jacob ‘Baby Jake’ Motlala, Brian Mitchell, Dingaan Thobela, Gerrie Coetzee, Hekkie Budlender, and Cassius Baloyi are household names in South Africa. They are some of the better known of dozens of world champions we have produced. In between 1995 and 1999 we had 30 world title holders. Stanley Christodoulou, meanwhile, has been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, was the first man to referee world title fights in all 17 weight categories, and the third to oversee 100 world title bouts. One thing South Africans know how to do is box.

It is, however, a sport not without controversy and in need of supervision and regulation, particularly because prize money is often involved and because there is an obvious synergy between the amateur and professional codes of the sport. The South African Boxing Act 2001 established a new structure for the sport, its administration, as well as providing for a Boxing Commission to promote interaction between participants, associations, managers, promoters, trainers and officials. The sport is governed by Boxing SA, which is a juristic entity established by the Act.

There is a catch-all provision in the Act1 which stipulates that it is a criminal offence to contravene any of its provisions, without saying what those are. What follows is a collection of the more obvious provisions.

A. Tournaments

  1. It is an offence to hold (or assist in holding) a boxing tournament unless a licence has been issued by Boxing SA.2

  2. It is an offence also to hold (or assist in holding) a tournament in which someone who is not registered with Boxing SA takes part.3

  3. Once a tournament has been authorised by Boxing SA, the promoter of the tournament must (a) notify the police station nearest the venue of the date and time of the tournament, and (b) bring to the attention of the SAPS member (who must be a captain or higher ranking member) possible grounds for disruption at the tournament. It is an offence not to do both these things.4

  4. If any SAPS captain (or higher rank) is of the opinion that the continuance of a tournament is likely to endanger the life of anyone, or a result in a breach of the peace, he can order the participants or promoter to stop the contest (or exhibition) and order everyone to depart. Anyone who fails to comply with such an order commits an offence.5

B. Registration

  1. It is necessary for anyone wishing to become involved in the sport of boxing to be registered with Boxing SA. Unless you are in possession of a valid certificate of registration (as a boxer, official, trainer, manager, or promoter, as the case may be) it is an offence for you:
    • to take part in any tournament as a boxer;
    • to take part as an official;
    • to train a boxer with a view to his participation in any tournament;
    • to manage the affairs of any boxer insofar as they relate to his participation in any tournament;
    • to negotiate with any boxer with a view to procuring his service as a boxer at any tournament.6

C. Employment and freedom of association

  1. It is an offence to require a boxer to employ, retain or provide compensation to anyone as a condition of:
    • working with that boxer as a licensee, matchmaker, manager or promoter;
    • arranging for his participation in a professional boxing match; or
    • his participation in a professional boxing match.7
  2. Every participant in the sport (whether as boxer, or trainer etc) has the right to form and join associations, participate in its activities, participate in electing office bearers, and even stand for election. It is a crime to:
    • prevent anyone from exercising these rights;
    • discriminate against anyone for exercising such rights.8
  3. It is a crime to prevent anyone from exercising any rights in terms of the Act, or to discriminate against him for doing so.9

  4. It is an offence to advantage (or promise to advantage) any boxer, trainer, manager, promoter or official in return for:
    • his not exercising any right in terms of the Act;
    • his refraining from participating in any proceedings in terms of the Act.10
  1. Section 27. 

  2. Section 18. 

  3. Section 20. 

  4. Section 21(1). 

  5. Section 21(3). 

  6. Section 19. 

  7. Section 26. 

  8. Section 29(1) read with section 28. 

  9. Section 29(1). 

  10. Section 29(2).