Malawi Professional Boxing Control Board (MPBCB) has defied the suspension on contact sports by allowing its boxers to resume international bouts.
Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS) issued the ban in March this year as a preventive measure against the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The board has so far cleared two boxers Yamikani Mkandawire and Israel Kam’mwamba to travel to Tanzania for fights.
Justifying the move in an interview on Monday, MPBCB president Lonzoe ‘Defector’ Zimba said they are allowing boxers to travel abroad for international bouts because they are struggling financially.
“Our boxers earn their living through bouts. So, we decided to soften up on international bouts, but as for local ones, we are respecting the ban,” he said.
Zimba also said before issuing the clearances to boxers, the board demanded written documentation from the organisers on the safety of the boxers.
“We are not just issuing the clearance anyhow. The organisers are first providing us with information regarding the safety of our boxers from the Covid-19 pandemic,” he added.
On his part, Kam’mwamba, who is set to depart on Friday, said he has been assured by the organisers the pandemic has purpotedly been dealt with in Tanzania.
“I have the assurance that everything is under control,” he said.
Mkandawire, who faced Tanzanian Tony Rashid in Dar es Salaam last Friday, lost the bantamweight African Boxing Union (ABU) title bout through technical knockout in the second round of the 10-round title fight while Kam’mwamba is also expected to travel to Tanzania for a title fight later this month.
MNCS acting executive secretary Henry Mereka said they will demand a report from MPBCB on why they cleared the two boxers when the ban is still in effect.
He said: “We are not aware that they have resumed international bouts. We will get in touch with them to get the details for proper action,” he said.
On his part, health rights activist George Jobe said all measures that are in place to contain the pandemic need to be strictly followed.
He said it is sad that the boxing board has decided to start clearing boxers to travel outside the country for fights.
“This is not on; the board needs to stop that. It is important that we support all the efforts in place to prevent the further spread of the disease,” said Jobe.