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Presidents Column  |  October 2014

Posted on October 30 2014                                               Bookmark and Share
By WBF President Howard Goldberg  

         

 
 

31-year-old Phindile Mwelase was a true warrior, a woman of great courage and huge dignity, a woman who gave her all in everything she ever did.

Sadly and tragically, Phindile Mwelase passed away after being knocked out by Liz Butler in the sixth round in a boxing event held in Pretoria, South Africa on October 10. In what had been a competitive and entertaining bout, Mwelase was caught with a right hand and slumped to the canvas unconscious.

She was immediately taken to the Kalafong Hospital, and was then transferred to the Steve Biko Academic Hospital where she underwent surgery to stem bleeding on the brain nearly 48 hours after first collapsing.

While she remained in a coma, the South African boxing fraternity as well as the rest of the world prayed for her recovery.

Unfortunately, Mwelase did not recover and passed away a few days ago. The World Boxing Federation extends its condolences to her family and friends. May this courageous woman rest in peace.

Her opponent Liz Butler is devastated and has vowed never to box again, such is the anguish and pain that she is going through having been in this fight. It is hard to be part of a fight where such a tragedy occurred, but I am sure that Phindile would have wanted Liz to continue and would never have issued any blame whatsoever in Liz' direction.

Of course after such a tragedy, the old story of banning boxing has raised its ugly head once again. Boxing is a tough, dangerous sport but perhaps so too is motor racing, cage fighting, rugby and even football. While a combative sport, boxing is regulated insofar as safety and medical regulations is concerned.

Could these safety precautions and regulations be improved? It is an ongoing discussion, and the WBF will certainly discuss and investigate such matters with our WBF medical chief, the world renowned Dr. Adam Balogh.

Were boxing to be banned, it would without a shadow of doubt go underground, where few if any medical and safety precautions exist. Were boxing to be banned, thousands of poor youngsters who view boxing as a potential avenue away from poverty, crime and gangsterism, would clearly have no viable alternative but to a life of crime.

Boxing is a great sport, arguably the greatest sport ever. The truth is that it is a tough sport, but a sport which provides opportunities which otherwise many people would not be afforded. We all have choices, and those fighters who choose boxing know that it is not easy, and that it is a dangerous sport but a sport which opens doors to a life better to what they have at present.

The debate of banning boxing will continue long after we are all gone, but now it is time to mourn a young lady taken in the prime of her life. A young fighter who had the courage to get into the ring and to fight in the sport she loved so much.

As a fellow South African, I personally extend my condolences to the family and friends of Phindile Mwelase a woman of courage, bravery, dignity and honor. She will be missed. RIP Phindile Mwelase.

Until next time, keep boxing.


Howard Goldberg

PRESIDENT: World Boxing Federation

 

 
 
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