In boxing circles there is a long running joke whenever a fighter has to venture away from home for a bout.
Sometimes you have to knock the opponent and his trainer out to get the decision.
While it always evokes a chuckle and wry smile the scary reality is that it’s starting to become something of a norm in South African boxing.
Already beleaguered by an inefficient Boxing South Africa and hamstrung by a blackout of the sport by the national broadcaster, the last thing that the art of pugilism needs on these shores is to gain a reputation for favouring home fighters.
It’s no secret that those venturing to the Eastern Cape have often been wronged by hometown decisions but poor officiating showed up at Emperors Palace on the weekend when Mateusz Masternak was robbed of what looked like a routine victory against Johnny Muller.
The only man to get it right was judge Neville Hotz who had the fight 95-93 in favour of the Polish visitor but in a bizarre twist the other two cards, compiled by Soya Mani and Cyprial Ndaba, read 95-93 for Muller even though he’d been knocked down in the fifth and seventh rounds.
One senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Citizen yesterday that decisions of this nature would add to the sport’s woes.
“There was no way you could get that fight wrong. Muller was knocked down twice and would have had to have done something ridiculously special in the other rounds which he didn’t really do,” said the official.
“Bad officiating is starting to creep in and guys won’t come fight here if that’s the case. This shocking result was all over the international boxing websites and South African boxing doesn’t need that.”
The biggest issue contributing to results of this nature is a severe lack of training for junior officials and refresher courses for those who have been involved for years.
“The crux of the problem is a severe lack of training. New officials have come in and yet I can’t ever recall them doing training courses.
“They sit ringside for a couple of months and then all of a sudden they’re refereeing and judging. That’ why you are starting to see these kinds of results,” added the source.
The punchline mentioned earlier rang true on the weekend, it can only be hoped that it doesn’t cause South African boxing officials to become a laughing stock.