Malawi Professional Boxing Control Board (MPBCB) has written government asking it to allow fans to patronise bouts amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
While thanking government for lifting the suspension on sporting activities, MPBCB says without fans the sport cannot sustain itself.
Said MPBCB president Lonzoe Zimba: “Unlike in the developed countries, local television Industry has not developed to the commercial levels to beam live bouts and make profits. As such, revenue is dependent on gate revenue. That is the reason we are appealing to government to allow fans.”
He said promoters have complained that they can only promote fights if the fans will be allowed to watch.
Zimba said as MPBCB they are ready to observe all Covid-19 guidelines such as physical distancing and mandatory wearing of masks.
“We will also have liquid hand soap in designated places within the venue. Boxers, doctors and or cornermen will be subjected to Covid-19 tests. We have put on checks to ensure we do not violate guidelines,” said Zimba.
Patrick Ngwenyama of Ngwenyama Boxing Promotions has since thanked MPBCB for seeking government intervention.
“As promoters, apart from playing a role in developing boxing we are also into business. We sometimes pay boxers K350 000 each for a fight but with no fans. It would mean incurring a huge loss. We need government’s blessings to allow fans,” he said.
Ngwenyama said that on average, a boxing match makes K4.5 million in Malawi and minus expenses they can result in K1.5 million profits.
He said in countries such as Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa the situation is different because companies buy airtime on televisions to market their products, making it easy for promoters to retain profits even if fans are barred.
“We can’t say the same about Malawi. We have a huge boxing following who have been denied their favourite sport because of Covid-19 effects,” said Ngwenyama.
Minister of Youth and Sports Ulemu Msungama said his ministry will look into the request from MPBCB and determine the way forward.