In North America, the state, provincial, tribal, and municipal government bodies that regulate boxing, have embraced the Regulation of mixed martial arts, to the benefit of all parties involved.
This is not the case in other parts of the world, unfortunately. In most parts of the world, the sport remains without government regulation. Worse, sometimes there is an adversarial relationship between government boxing regulators and MMA.
In South Africa, WBF African heavyweight champion, Elvis Moyo was recently barred for life from boxing, by acting Boxing SA chief executive Loyiso Mtya, for competing in EFC Africa.
Mtya cited safety concerns, but EFC Africa has stringent medical standards.
EFC Africa fighters take an HIV test and hepatitis test, an MRI and MRA brain scan, submit a full medical history, and undergo a pre-fight medical check before they are allowed to compete. EFC also tests for Performance Enhancing Drugs and other banned substances. EFC athletes must have their own medical insurance, with EFC contributing 50% of the cost, a first of its kind in African combat sports. Cageside medical personnel includes two trauma doctors, and 12 paramedics, far exceeding prescribed safety standards. In addition, EFC athletes are given a comprehensive post-fight examination, and are not allowed to compete for up to 90 days if a concussion was sustained, depending on its severity.
Moyo was not even informed that he was banned, learning about it from a friend who read about it in the newspaper.
“I chose to fight for EFC because, as the African WBF heavyweight champion, I am being offered very few boxing fights,” said Moyo. “MMA is a fast growing combat sport and I want to test my skills against the best.”
“I’m sad to hear about this ruling. I have given everything I’ve got to boxing. All I want to do is compete, and earn a good living for my family. MMA is a great opportunity for me and I’m very happy to be competing for EFC. I suppose we’ll see where my boxing career goes from here.”
EFC president Cairo Howarth also responded, at length.
“I was surprised to read the article,” said Howarth. “Elvis has fought for us on three occasions and has proven himself to be a highly professional athlete, and a fan favorite with his incredible boxing skills. We contracted him with the understanding that he would continue his boxing career when he was done competing at EFC, which from our point of view is beneficial to everyone.”
“The reasoning put forward in the article is based on incorrect information. Extensive research conducted in various countries has shown that statistically MMA is at least as safe as boxing, if not more so. One of the reasons is that MMA has no standing ten count. There are also generally less head strikes due to kicks to the legs and body, and the majority of the bout is often grappling based.”
“Athlete’s safety is our top priority. We are continually evolving to make sure our athletes receive the best care, and fight under the most professional conditions possible.”
“ MMA has recently been rated as the third most watched sport on the African continent. I believe Boxing SA’s ruling on Moyo has been made because of inaccurate information about the sport. We look forward to working with Boxing SA in a way that will mutually benefit the many highly talented athletes working under both our banners.”
Earlier this week Mtya was suspended indefinitely by Boxing SA chairperson of the board Ntambi Ravele over allegations of corruption and maladministration.
“The board considered the outcome of the preliminary investigation and found the preliminary findings to be serious and therefore resolved to place Mr Mtya on a precautionary suspension pending the outcome of a full investigation,” said Ravele in a statement.
Mtya was also suspended in 2011 following allegations of corruption, but was eventually reinstated.
Mtya had been acting in the role of Boxing South Africa CEO following the suspension of Moffat Qithi, for lying about his criminal record in a defamation case between Boxing SA and promoter Branco Milenkovic.
Hopefully Boxing SA can in short order appoint an honest, progressive director, who can move the organization forward, beginning with reversing the ban on Mr. Moyo.