Hepundjua quits ‘troubled’ boxing board

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Otniel Hembapu

Windhoek-Kenny Hepundjua, one of five members of the Namibia Professional Boxing and Wrestling Control Board (NPBWCB) appointed late last year, has parted ways with the troubled boxing board following his recent resignation.

A medical doctor by profession, Hepundjua along with current board chairperson Ellison Hijarunguru, Ronald Kurtz, Victoria Hamunyela and Philip Mwandingi were appointed by Sport Minister Jerry Ekandjo last September to steer the NPBWCB ship for three years.

They replaced the old board, which consisted of Kelly Nghixulifwa (former chairperson), Ellison Hijarunguru (former vice chairperson), Ambrosius Kandjii, Dr Shitaleni Herman and prominent local lawyer Slow Murorua.

As per the powers vested in him by the Boxing Act of 1980 under Section (4) sub-section (1) and (2), Ekandjo decided to retain the services of Hijarunguru, who then took over as chairperson of the new board.

Hepundjua yesterday confirmed his resignation from the board, saying as a medical doctor, the workload at his practice and the ever-increasing number of patients, it was becoming impossible to strike a fair balance between attending fully to his patients and satisfactorily executing his duties as the boxing board’s medical doctor.

Hepundjua said: “My resignation has nothing to do with any other issue, but it’s a decision based solely on my loaded work schedule and the duties I have to carry out for the boxing board on the other side, as I was the board’s medical doctor. Serving on the board was a great honor and pleasure although my medical practice was very demanding and I couldn’t continue to serve on the board. One of the great challenges is definitely lack of funding”
“…The current board is served by very capable and extremely passionate individuals that really have the best interest of boxing at heart. Professional boxing in Namibia has a lot of potential but I believe that with more interest from private sponsors and constant positive backup from promoters we’ll do very well. I wish the board well and also to Namibian boxing,” said Hepundjua.

Of late, the boxing board has been in the news for all the wrong reasons, from the deteriorating state of affairs at the boxing board’s office, to a suspended bank account due to perceived financial laxity.

New Era Sport recently reported that telephone lines and the internet connection at the office of the boxing board were cut late last year due to a string of unpaid utility bills.

Also, the bank account of the boxing board has been in the minus for some time now and that led to the suspension of the account – meaning local boxing promoters have for the past few months been forced to pay thousands of dollars of sanction fees in hard cash due to the board’s defunct bank account.

Not just the suspended bank account – New Era Sport yesterday established that the boxing board has for the past two months also not paid its rental fees for the office space they occupy at BPI House in Werner List Street in the city centre. The landlords have already served NPBWCB with an eviction order, which came into effect at the end of April.

Even worse, employees of the boxing board are said to have been temporarily placed on the payroll of the Namibia Sport Commission (NSC) until the boxing board sorts out its financial mess.

Earlier this year, widespread media reports also accused the NPBWCB board members of milking the coffers of the boxing body through exorbitant sitting allowances and other unexplained incentives, which they allegedly pocketed during various boxing bonanzas staged by local boxing promoters.

As per multiple media reports, each board member was reported to have pocketed between N$15,000 to N$20,000 in sitting allowances between October and December last year, which totaled to an estimated N$300,000 or more for that period.

Following those damning reports, NPBWCB board members later convened a shabbily organised press conference where they tried by all means to justify why they claimed such massive sums in sitting allowances, but the explanations accorded and documents produced during that conference were short of substance and lacking in many respects.

For instance, the board could not satisfactorily justify and provide logical explanations as to why they appointed a new private secretary to take minutes at their meetings at a reported cost of N$10,000, while they already had a full-time and highly experienced office secretary capable of executing similar functions.

It was also alleged at the time that NPBWCB board members were reportedly pocketing N$3,500 each for attending professional bouts, while whoever amongst them chose to be the supervisor on the night would easily walk away with between N$10,000 and N$12,000 – that’s roughly three times more than an average boxer on the undercard would get.

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